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Writer’s Residency: Day Two

August 6, 2013

View of Barnard Castle's Buttermarket
Day Two is all about the senses i.e. gathering sensory information in preparation for writing a poem about a key building known locally as ‘The Buttermarket.’
The Buttermarket is the name given to the stone octagon which dominates the centre of Barnard Castle and has had the misfortune (due to its location) of becoming a roundabout.
I managed to cross the road at a quiet time earlier this morning to explore the interior of the building which was gifted to the town by a wealthy wool merchant called Mr. Thomas Breaks in 1747.
As well as continually serving its original purpose as a shelter for farmers’ wives selling eggs, butter and cheese on market days, it has also been a look out post for vigilantes, courthouse and lock up, town hall, surveyor’s and fire station.
It was easy to gather a range of sounds related to the constant flow of traffic taking one of the three roads in and out of town but harder to capture tastes and smells in brief moments of silence.
I will talk about the creative writing exercise in more detail later in the week once workshop participants have had a chance to try it out on Thursday morning. In the meantime if you are looking for a sensory literary experience I can thoroughly recommend ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern.
This book was loaned to me by a friend a few weeks ago who thought I would enjoy it as she knows I am an avid consumer of fantasy fiction as well as a keen reader of poetry.
I agree with reviewers who have called it: ‘an enchanting, mesmerising and magical experience for both the mind and the senses’. This is a cleverly structured novel which you cannot fail to taste and smell. Let me wet your appetite with the following excerpt:
While outside the cool night air is scented with caramel and smoke, this tent is warm and smells of incense and roses and beeswax.’
The same cannot be said for the Buttermarket which could be likened to a grey stone marquee which was cold and smelt of damp moss and mouldy cheese while the air outside was scented with diesel oil and petrol fumes.

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