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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.
'The most arresting book that I've read this year is Martha
Sprackland's 51 pages of poetry, Citadel (Liverpool University Press). 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
Richard Davenport-Hines, 'Books of the Year' in The TLS '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 'Martha Sprackland has filled the pages with sharp, delicious and multi-layered verse. To meld the symbolic with the historic into an interior dreamscape of pain and glory is no easy task. Citadel is elaborate, robust, pleasurable, and built to last.'
David Morgan O'Connor, RHINO Poetry '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 '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.'
'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
'[Citadel] is keenly responsive to questions of place and displacement... Sprackland's painterly visions linger long in the memory.'
Aingeal Clare, The Guardian
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
For previous work: '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
For previous work: '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
For previous work: '[A] commanding teller of the strange stories of others . . . Sprackland's best poems have the power of an irresistible tide.'
Alison Brackenbury, PN Review
For previous work: '[V]iolence or (in this case)
is figured with a tender precision . . . Sprackland forces a wonderful fascination upon her readers.'
Edwina Attlee, The Poetry Review
Publication date: 27/04/2020
Publisher: Liverpool University Press
|Publication date:||27th April 2020|
|Publisher:||Liverpool University Press|
|Categories:||Poetry by individual poets,|
Martha Sprackland is an editor, writer and translator from Merseyside. She is the editor for independent press Offord Road Books, poetry editor for Poetry London, and an editor for Unbound. Two pamphlets - Glass As Broken Glass (Rack Press, 2017) and Milk Tooth (Rough Trade Books, 2018) were followed by the debut collection Citadel (Pavilion Poetry, 2020), which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.More About Martha Sprackland