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

Jean Sprackland Interview

Jean Sprackland talks about her inspiration and process for writing...

Guided tours

Jean Sprackland

A tour of the Children's Archive with Jean Sprackland

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...

Selected bibliography

Our Thoughts Are Bees: Working with Writers and Schools...

Tilt, Jonathan Cape 2007

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Ellipsis v.1, Comma Poetry 2005 (prose)

Hard Water, Jonathan Cape 2003

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Tattoos for Mothers' Day, Spike 1997

Prizes

2007 Costa Book Award for Poetry

Prize website

Recordings

Jean Sprackland

Jean Sprackland Downloads

1Note from the Outside

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2Hard Water

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3Fibre Optics

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4Reading Leaves

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5The Apprentice

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6The Currency of Jellyfish

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7The Light Collector

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8The Room of Saints and Virgins

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9Seacoal

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10Losing the Dark

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11Holy

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12No Man's Land

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13Barbie on the Roof

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14Lovell Radio Telescope, Jodrell Bank

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15The Hairdresser's Across the Street

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16And They All Lived Happily Ever After

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17A Baby in the Filing Cabinet

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18Before There Were Weather Forecasts

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19Caravan

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20The Man who Comes to Empty the Bottle Bank

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21Shocks

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22A Hangman's New Career

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23The Mission

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24An Old Friend Comes to Stay

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25Everything Must Go

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26Shadow Photograph

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27Learning to Love Money

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28Teaching Frogs to Fly

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29Deadnettle

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30In the Planetarium

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31Radio Silence

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32Tattoos for Mothers' Day

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33Ice on the Beach

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34You

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35Physics

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36Spilt

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37Underfire

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Guided tours

Books by Jean Sprackland