About Jean Sprackland
Jean Sprackland (b. 1962) is the author of two books of poems and a collection of short stories, and has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Whitbread Prize and the T. S. Eliot prize. She was chosen as a Next Generation Poet in 2004 and won the 2007 Costa Poetry Award.
There is an attention through Sprackland's work to the spark of mystery left in what we have allowed to seem domestic or ordinary. The East Lancashire Road is found to be peppered with small objects that spin out into stories in 'No Man's Land' (originally a collaboration with the photographer David Walker), and 'The Man Who Comes To Empty The Bottle Bank' can see a future, an escape, in the way "sunlight crackles" on the splintered glass.
She can also ground in humanity what can otherwise seem too mysterious; the saint in 'Holy' is, as Sprackland describes it in her introduction, the realisation of an urge "to write about a saint who was not only a model of virtue but also fully human." Again, in 'Hard Water', while Sprackland celebrates her native Burton-upon-Trent, she blends the positive aspects of the people and the water, so that the "fierce lovely water that marked me for life / as belonging" keeps her style accessible, avoiding the voice in the poem that might mutter "too bloody deep for me". 'Ice on the Beach', however, inspires awe at its difference - it is "dream stuff", a "sheet of sprung light".
Her reading style is assured and expressive, having been built on a commitment to presenting poems aloud as much as in print from the start. The dialogue within some of these poems - "Do you remember that library book?", "hey up me duck" - gives them a conversational flavour, one that does not disguise the careful construction of their lines, but rather welcomes a listener into their mysteries.
Her recording was made on 23 August 2005 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.
Interviews and other readings
There are so many good poems in the Children's Poetry Archive, it's hard to know where to start! I'd like to share with you just a few of my favourites. I've chosen six very different poems: some...
Jean Sprackland Reading from her Poems
1Note from the Outside
6The Currency of Jellyfish
7The Light Collector
8The Room of Saints and Virgins
10Losing the Dark
12No Man's Land
13Barbie on the Roof
14Lovell Radio Telescope, Jodrell Bank
15The Hairdresser's Across the Street
16And They All Lived Happily Ever After
17A Baby in the Filing Cabinet
18Before There Were Weather Forecasts
20The Man who Comes to Empty the Bottle Bank
22A Hangman's New Career
24An Old Friend Comes to Stay
25Everything Must Go
27Learning to Love Money
28Teaching Frogs to Fly
30In the Planetarium
32Tattoos for Mothers' Day
33Ice on the Beach
Visiting the Poetry Archive feels like browsing through your favourite bookshop and finding that all the books are...