Pavilion Poetry


April 27th, 2020

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'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
'[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) "terrible dynamism" is figured with a tender precision . . . Sprackland forces a wonderful fascination upon her readers.'
Edwina Attlee, The Poetry Review

Shortlisted for Costa Poetry Award 2020
Shortlisted for Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2020

Shortlisted for John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize 2021
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

'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

'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 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 Elizabeth Bishop’s.'
Richard Davenport-Hines, 'Books of the Year' in The TLS

'Citadel is extraordinary. A chameleonic debut... I am deeply moved by this book, its tenderness and its violence.'
Jack Solloway, 'Top 10 books of 2020' in Voice Magazine

'These history-inspired works shine with a dark brilliance, with Sprackland’s rigorous scholarship combined with an artist’s eye.'
Bidisha, The Poetry Review

'Sprackland has the dizzying ability to jump-cut from past to present and back again quickly and to feel absolutely in control while doing it. [...] That gradual accumulation of change over centuries shows that small moments can make a big difference, and this is amplified by the sheer act of leaping into a pond or pool unlocking a “winter lived through and unbound”. I felt the water on my own skin reading this and was uplifted. [...] This collection is in many ways a catalogue, its own Hunterian collection, if you will, of the human body and mind. [...] What rings through the collection is a feeling of strength and of bearing things, of going on regardless, that sense of ‘devotion hopeless as any other’. [...W]hile we can’t see "exactly where everything will go", it seems that Sprackland has built a solid and impressive launchpad for the future. She deserves her plaudits.'Mat Riches, The Friday Poem

'Such a moment[s] of profound emotional, physical and psychological experience must be the origins of the identification between two individuals so remote in time and Sprackland catches the paralleled shift of innocence to pained maturity in the brilliant final line: “Our little beds, bars of autumnal light falling through the curtains”.'Martyn Crucefix

Author Information

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.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Poached Eggs on Toast9
Beautiful Game10
A Room in London11
A Blow to the Head12
Green Beach13
Scarlet Pimpernel15
The Velvet Trail17
They Admit Each Other to the Inquisitor18
God of Larks and Buntings21
Other People’s Furniture22
Go Away and Then Come Back25
For Letting Them into the Building26
The Work27
An Interruption During Dinner28
Vitrine of Tektites and Fulgurites29
Pimientos de Padrón32
Cocido Madrileño33
Hunterian Triptych35
Endovéllico's Hour37
Sports Metaphor38
'The Perfect Wife'42
Still Life Moving45
Dappled Things47
Juana and Martha in Therapy48
An Entertainment of Broken Letrillas for Juana at Seventy, Incarcerated at Tordesillas49
Confession, in Anticipation of an Orthognathic Surgery50
Project for Scissors, Paper and an Egg51