The new collection from the Costa prize-winning Jean Sprackland
In her first collection since the Costa-winning Tilt, Jean Sprackland looks back at endings and beginnings: the end of a life, or of a marriage; old homes lived in and left, new homes discovered. There are poems that speak of the paralysis and bewilderment of knowing something is over, and of the strangely significant, almost votive nature of the things that are left behind: the biscuit tin ‘of old keys, decommissioned and sleeping’, the empty room fading ‘to a tinnitus of dust and dead wasps’.
This is a book of transitions – domestic and emotional – and it explores how the experience of change is painful, disorientating, even catastrophic, but also profoundly necessary and revelatory. Change brings with it the hope that love can be recovered out of the ruins; change, in fact, is a creative, healing force that shows us we have been living among ruins – that even in the face of grief and loss there are ‘spectral futures / we must stride the ditch to reach’.
Full of exact, vivid, clear-eyed observation of a world of failure and flux, Sleeping Keys also illuminates a future world beyond. For every object left emptied of significance, bereft, Jean Sprackland shows us another that is charged and radiant with possibility – the possibility of miracles.
“Assured and tactful… Sleeping Keys is a book distinguished by rueful but unembittered wisdom.”
Sean O'Brien, Guardian
“Full of poems that are unashamedly domestic.”
Suzi Feay, Independent on Sunday
“The poems in this collection are short, terse, painful reflections on ends and beginnings… The later poems are ones of resilience, rebirth and hope.”
“Apparently simple, down to earth poems with deep, unexpected, surprising images... Every line, each word are loaded with meaning.”
“Poems scarred with the painful aftermath of a marital break-up and the wounded delight of new love. Anyone who has been through a divorce will recognise the language of these elegies. Sprackland’s tone sometimes reminds me of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.”
Bel Mooney, Daily Mail
“If you think poetry may not be for you, or perhaps you feel a bit out of step with it and can't think how or where to begin again then Sleeping Keys might be the way back in.”