poetry

 NAMED BEST DEBUT COLLECTION IN THE TELEGRAPH'S BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2020 
 Selected as one of the TLS Books of the Year 2020
 Telegraph Poetry Book of the Month 
 Ambit Poetry Book of the Week 
Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection
Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award

Citadel

Pavilion Poetry / Liverpool University Press, April 2020.

Available direct from the publisher here.

Juana of Castile (commonly referred to as Juana la Loca – Joanna the Mad) was a sixteenth-century Queen of Spain, daughter of the instigators of the Inquisition. Conspired against, betrayed, imprisoned and usurped by her father, husband and son in turn, she lived much of her life confined at Tordesillas, and left almost nothing by way of a written record. The poems in Citadel are written by a composite ‘I’ – part Reformation-era monarch, part twenty-first century poet – brought together by a rupture in time as the result of ambiguous, traumatic events in the lives of two women separated by almost five hundred years. Across the distance between central Spain and the northwest coast of England these powerful, unsettling poems echo and double back, threading together the remembered places of childhood, the touchstones of pain, and the dreamscapes of an anxious, interior world. Symbolic objects – the cord, the telephone, eggs, a flashing blue light – make obsessive return, communication becoming increasingly difficult as the storm moves in over the sea. Citadel is a daring and luminous debut.

'So much fire comes to life in snapshots on these pages ... The images are electrifying. Something marvellous occurs: a domestic scene becomes “a blow to the head / enough to knock the earth from its orbit.” I love this book.' – Ilya Kaminsky

'Martha Sprackland's poems are virtuosic in their timing, texture, and detailed evocation. From poems of the hospital to poems of the shore, this is a fierce and fresh debut that rings with courage and intelligence. Citadel will seize you by the heart and lead you into deep and resonant territories, and when you return you will find yourself changed, strange to yourself, and wondrously enriched.' – Fiona Benson

'a spellbinding, time-travelling debut filled with imagination and mystery.' The Costa Award judges 2020

'Sprackland’s poetic process depends on the conversations held with an extreme figure from history, whose own voice has been long hidden, but without ever succumbing to biography or retelling. The end result is pleasingly strange; a collection which defies the limits of physics to find a timeslip between centuries old inner-city Spain and the north-west coastal towns of 21st century England.' Hannah Whaley, Dundee Review of the Arts

'The most arresting book that I’ve read this year ... I’ve returned over and again to this little work of perfect art: the language is so lithe, exact and rich; the painterly images such a joy; the sensibility so fine and rare. Citadel has a careful, agile, flowing structure: many poems in the voice of a sixteenth-century Spanish queen, and others in Sprackland’s own. Her luxuriant conjuring eloquence about objects, places and emotion reminds me of Elizabeth Bishop’s.' Richard Davenport-Hines, 'Books of the Year', the TLS

'...it gave me goosebumps ... physical sensations leap out: the taste of a pepper, the ache of a tooth. Even the strangest descriptions have a rightness about them.' – Tristram Fane Saunders, Telegraph

'Citadel is keenly responsive to questions of place and displacement ... Sprackland's painterly visions linger long in the memory.' Aingeal Clare, Guardian

'Will this be pretty nostalgia? Hardly... This is a startling debut collection: crisp and controlled, ceaselessly inquisitive, and often moving and empathetic.' Rory Waterman, TLS

'Martha Sprackland captures a kind of pain that can be just as intense and all-encompassing, but which almost never turns up in poems – toothache. It might remind you of Sylvia Plath’s famous “Cut”, where a similar torrent of metaphors flows from another seemingly trivial hurt (a nicked finger)...' Poem of the Week, Telegraph


 Shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award 

Milk Tooth

Rough Trade Books, November 2018.

Available direct from the publisher here

Things are not always what they seem in these poems of trauma and transformation. Reflections and shape-shifters move through them: a child’s balloon like a fish with a hook in its mouth, a raven disturbingly alive and dead at the same time. Pain is tracked to a bad tooth, but the source is uncertain, the memory unstable and changeable; the picture 'splinters into refracted light'. Remembering, refusing and reimagining create mirrors, doubles and oppositions that tangle the thread, rejecting the simple, single way back.

'Sprackland’s words pierce through the mundanity of the everyday, creating intense emotional landscapes [...] With Milk Tooth, Sprackland continues to establish herself as one of Britain’s finest young poets.' Robert Greer, The London Magazine

'in that Plathian control, that cool presentation of event, vibrant, clustering images take hold and push through intimacy and address . . . Sprackland’s lyric voice is elastic, commodious . . . it bears evidence of its soldered edges, the violence of experience, an ethos of resistance delivered in crisp-cut lines whose intimations of gendered solidarity sting.' – Maria Sledmere, Poetry School


Glass As Broken Glass

Rack Press, January 2017.
Longlisted for a Sabotage Award
One of the London Review Bookshop's Spring Picks

Available direct from the publisher here and also here, here and here

‘I caved him in with the heel of my shoe’ begins ‘Snail’, the tiniest act of accidental violence setting the tone for Sprackland’s pamphlet . . . Between poor Ron Sullivan, struck by lightning seven times, who ‘crackled when he walked’, and the fevered lover who radiates fire at night, this skinny volume of 8 poems explores the body in extremis.' Julia Bird, The Poetry School Books of the Year 2017

"[With] formal acuity Martha Sprackland's 'Domestic' characterizes a broken relationship as helplessly frozen syntax teetering on that very word – as – everything that's just happened in a nameless quarrel 'as' something faraway, free of it, clear of it, like smoke or sky. Numbness of spent emotion, wonderfully anatomized: 'Glass as broken glass.'" – Glyn Maxwell

"Sprackland refreshes the domestic and mundane in poems which are outwardly calm, but lit from within to reveal unusual visionary angles." – Eric Gregory Award judges 2014

'In Glass As Broken Glass Martha Sprackland's poems thrum with a delicate fragility. These are words that push gently at life's fissures to reveal a quiet understanding of the splintered and fragmented nature of the world and our place in it.' – Sophie McKeand, Caught by the River

'Martha Sprackland is already a formidable technician. The sonnet is moved through quatrains and and a kind of terza rima, and there is deft and adept free verse. The result is a calm, taut surface to the poems which belies the heightened, sometimes gothic nature of the subject matter.' – Ian Pople, The Manchester Review

'A poet of considerable creative powers, with astute diction and use of imagery, together with a tranquil repose in the sense of time and place . . . she is a poet with genuine talent and insight.' Graham Hardie, London Grip

'[A] commanding teller of the strange stories of others . . . Sprackland's best poems have the power of an irresistible tide.' Alison Brackenbury, PN Review

'[V]iolence or (in this case) "terrible dynamism" is figured with a tender precision . . . Sprackland forces a wonderful fascination upon her readers.' Edwina Attlee, The Poetry Review

'This debut pamphlet refuses to provide easy answers. It packs a lot into so little space.' D. A. Prince, New Walk

'These are intriguing and provocative poems which will repay further attention . . . The poem which gives the pamphlet its title, ‘Domestic’, is allusive and atmospheric. Something has happened but we are not told what – a quarrel, a breakage, an injury, a declaration, a dissipation, a dull fact of damage, all conveyed in a series of images. The poem which has the most power is 'Superposition and Collapse' . . . It is stunning, recording a complex mix of baffled self-blame and grief.' – Elizabeth Rimmer, Sabotage Reviews


Limited edition booklet

Desperate Literature, December 2016


On Sharks

A four-poem pamphlet by PDF platform Minerva.


Domestic

Glass as day-blooming flower,
television as mortar shell. Television
as volleyball against white sun.
Sun as broken glass, in fragments,
glass as crazy paving on street below.
Power cord as vapour trail.
White smoke as cigarette smoke,
smoke as wedding dress pulled through water,
smoke as blood in water.
Glass as water on street below.
Pavement cracks as broken glass as x-ray
held to box of light. Television as broken wrist.
Power cord as skywriting, as Marry Me
on biplane banner. Television as biplane.
Television as bird. White flower growing
in pavement crack as open hand.
Glass as broken glass.