UK | 2013
Jean Sprackland was born and brought up in Burton-on-Trent in 1964. She studied English and Philosophy at the University of Kent at Canterbury, then taught for a few years before beginning to write poetry at the age of 30. Her first poetry collection was Tattoos for Mothers Day (1997), which was shortlisted for the 1998 Forward Poetry Prize (Best First Collection), and her second collection, Hard Water (2003), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, was shortlisted for the 2003 T. S. Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Poetry Award. In 2004 Jean Sprackland was named by the Poetry Book Society as one of the ‘Next Generation’ poets. Her third collection of poetry is Tilt (2007), winner of the 2007 Costa Poetry Award. In 2012 her book, Strands: A Year of Discoveries on the Beach was published – a series of meditations on walking the beaches between Blackpool and Liverpool. She has held residencies in schools and universities, and is a tutor for the Arvon Foundation. She also works in education, training and consultancy for organizations including the Poetry Society and the Poetry Archive. Jean Sprackland is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, and a trustee of the Poetry Archive. She lives in London.
I was fortunate enough to spend three weeks at Santa Maddalena in April/May 2013. I had recently signed a contract for a new book, and I arrived with a stack of research notes and nothing more. I was feeling very uncertain about the direction this book might take, and not at all confident that I’d be able to make good use of the residency, but by the time I left I’d broken the ice and written nearly 20,000 words. What made the difference was the peace and solitude of the place, where I had the freedom to write uninterrupted for hours at a stretch, without any of the distractions and obligations which are an inevitable part of daily life at home. I spent my time writing, reading and thinking, breaking off only to eat delicious meals and go for long walks in good company. The beauty of the place, and its quiet timelessness, gave me the chance to hear myself think, which is the single most important thing to me as a writer. I’m deeply grateful to Beatrice for offering me this gift, and for the extraordinarily generous hospitality she showed towards me.