Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection history is what we call / what might have happened differently / and didn' t It is the decade of centuries, and Cheryl tells us our fortune. Radicals liberate a zoo, teenagers flirt in a bowling alley, and the dead are cherished. In these inventive, playful, dream-like poems, Stephen Sexton takes us on a journey through the past and the present, while Cheryl translates from the future, showing us how we exist in all three at once. Reckoning with both public and private tragedies, the book is divided into three parts. In Part One, the poems range across old Europe: ' Edelweiss' and Titanic setting sail, to a transatlantic, cross-century symposium in Part Two, where two giants perfect their arts in collaboration. In Part Three we are back in the land where the past keeps breaking through, it' s practically always the anniversary of something terrible, but there' s always Cheryl in the moonlight and her deck of tarot cards. A thrillingly strange exploration of the comfort of the fantastical when the real is hard to bear, Cheryl' s Destinies is the enchanting follow-up to the Forward Prize for Best First Collection-winning If All the World and Love Were Young, by one of the most exciting young poets writing today.
With poetry for me it' s an either/or. Either I can barely read the stuff - which happens most of the time - or it leaves me delirious with the thrill of possibility. Stephen Sexton makes anything seem possible: the simplest things and the most mysterious - which, of course, are one and the same. -- Geoff Dyer ' While reading "Cheryl' s Destinies," every so often I encountered a poem that struck me as a poem people would be reading a hundred years from now. I felt the way I felt the first time I read "Death of a Naturalist," though, of course, Heaney was already Heaney by the time I read that book. Then again, Stephen Sexton is already Stephen Sexton-these poems glow with a welcoming confidence and with a particularness that is local everywhere, and are full of surprising moments that immediately become part of how one understands the world. "Cheryl' s Destinies" is a course of miracles. -- Shane McCrae In Cheryl' s Destinies, Stephen Sexton throws time into a dance with itself. Surreal and prismatic, weird and shape-shifting, these poems are missives from a rare and rapturous imagination. -- Sean Hewitt
Stephen Sexton' s debut collection If All the World and Love Were Young won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and was named ' a debut fit to compare to Seamus Heaney' (Sunday Times ). He also received the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. He was the winner of the 2016 National Poetry Competition and the recipient of an ACES award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and was awarded an Eric Gregory Award in 2018. He teaches at Queen' s University, Belfast