Shortlisted for John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize 2021
Shortlisted for Costa Poetry Award 2020
Shortlisted for Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2020
Poetry Book of the Month – The Telegraph May 2020
Included in Books of the Year 2020 – The TLS November 2020
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.
'Citadel - despite its surface of smooth, confident lyricism - is a very strange book... Even the strangest descriptions have a rightness about them: "The bright/ metallic snip like a speckled thrush tapping/ a snail against a stone" is how Sprackland hears the sound of a man clipping his fingernails. How could anyone resist that?' Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph Reviews'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 BensonReviews for previous work '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 '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 '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] 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
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