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Sleeping Keys Paperback – 5 Sep 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (5 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224097695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224097697
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 0.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 275,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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." (Catholic Herald)

"Apparently simple, down to earth poems with deep, unexpected, surprising images... Every line, each word are loaded with meaning." (Lancashire Life)

"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)

Book Description

The new collection from the Costa prize-winning Jean Sprackland

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this collection greatly. It's all highly accessible and covers a range of very unusual subject matters (the created world as well as the natural world and some of the personal relationships of the poet). All the poems make you look at the world in a new light, sometimes challenging the way we think about the world (what is the self? and can it be captured any more than the moment?) as much as the way we look at it.

Strongly recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A L Stewart on 24 Mar 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A good read, bought as a present. I would recommend this book. It is one that you can keep on going back to.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The importance of what is unrecognized 29 Oct 2013
By Glynn Young - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
We all have a box or something like a box, perhaps more than one, filled with old coins, paper clips, the combinations to locks thrown away years ago, extra screws for the floor lamp we bought at Target (some assembly required), and old keys to vaguely remembered locks. Rather useless stuff, really, but we can't quite bring ourselves to throw it all away. Something might be hidden away among the jumble.

Those "Sleeping Keys" constitute the subject of the title poem in poet Jean Sprackland's new collection, published earlier this year:

Printed with old roses or tartan and thistle,
there's a biscuit tin like this in every house.
Prise off the lid and catch the flinty scent
of old keys, decommissioned and sleeping.

Like unspent francs, deutschmarks and drachmas
they accumulate here, inert and futureless,
though each in its time was powerful:
precision-cut on a wheel of sparks.

Tip them out on the table in the empty kitchen
and rake through them one last time.
The mortice for the first front door,
The yale for the porch, replaced ten years ago
(never a good copy, it balked at the turn)...

The metaphor of sleeping keys shapes the poems in the collection, whether they are about life, love, a garden, a mother dying. These memories lie jumbled together, possibly valuable or possibly not, quietly awaiting the opening of the lid, prompted by a thought, a memory, a letter.

And old letters are additional sleeping keys. Sprackland inserts poems titled "Letter Home" between the longer poems in the collection. Short and pointed, each letter captures a memory, and the things that exist only in memory.

For that is what Sleeping Keys is largely about: memory and memories, how they shape who we are and how they can often lie fallow, waiting for the inspiration to emerge, for the moment to become real again. Or they may remain in the biscuit box, forever forgotten and never recalled.

Sprackland is senior lecturer in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and a trustee of the Poetry Archive, "the world's premier online collection of recordings of poets reading their work." She's won the Costa Poetry Award (2008) and the Portico Prize for non-fiction (2012), and been shortlisted for the Forward Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize.

"Sleeping Keys" is a quiet collection, yet underscores the importance of what lies unrecognized and forgotten in our lives. Forgotten, perhaps, but important nonetheless.
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