Reviews 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
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
CITADEL is a book wherein the music and imagery map the emotion. So much fire comes to life in snapshots on these pages. Imagination here is just some remembering, from the other side, of course. And so the speaker sees her past: “the burning stars of our cigarettes danced / like gorseflowers we mixed screwdrivers / and kissed, and spewed and fought.” I opened this book on a short poem called “Ablutions” and fell in love. The image of a man kneeling on the bathroom floor to clip his fingernails straight into the toiled suddenly became larger than itself, became a dwelling, became a world. Then, I turned to “Mercy,” a very different poem, a myth, really, something inimitable. Perhaps it is the intimacy of human relationships in depicted in music and detail that sways me so. It makes trails and paths through speech, so a story as simple as two people sharing poached eggs on toast for breakfast becomes an epiphany, a moment wherein images startle, and “intention’s kingly yolk / spills of the countertop.” Or, take for instance a moment when a young girl lies ill in a room in London, her mother circles the building in her car for days while an orderly struggles to hold the girl’s “shoulders like the handles of pneumatic drill.” Hard to forget this. The images are electrifying. When this happens, something marvelous occurs: a domestic scene becomes “a blow to the head / enough to knock the earth from its orbit.” I love this book. --Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa