Jean Sprackland

Image by Caroline Forbes

Jean Sprackland

b. 1962

everyday life is turned into something instantly more compelling and mysterious... there's an undeniable beauty at the dark heart of these strange poems - Neil Rollinson

Ice on the Beach

Jean Sprackland


Reading Leaves

Jean Sprackland


Note from the Outside

Jean Sprackland

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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


Ellipsis v.1, Comma Poetry 2005 (prose)

Hard Water, Jonathan Cape 2003


Tattoos for Mothers' Day, Spike 1997


2007 Costa Book Award for Poetry

Prize website


Jean Sprackland

Jean Sprackland Reading from her Poems

1Note from the Outside

2Hard Water

3Fibre Optics

4Reading Leaves

5The Apprentice

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

23The Mission

24An Old Friend Comes to Stay

25Everything Must Go

26Shadow Photograph

27Learning to Love Money

28Teaching Frogs to Fly


30In the Planetarium

31Radio Silence

32Tattoos for Mothers' Day

33Ice on the Beach





A tour of the Archive with Danielle McShine

The Poetry Archive is an invaluable resource for hearing some of my favourite poems, read by their authors, and for...

Featured Guided Tours

Books by Jean Sprackland