Citadel by Martha Sprackland
Shortlisted for Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2020Poetry Book of the Month - The Telegraph May 2020Included in Books of the Year 2020 - The TLS November 2020Juana 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.