Cheryl's Destinies

Stephen Sexton author


Publisher:Penguin Books Ltd

Published:26th Aug '21


Available for immediate dispatch.

Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection
A Financial Times, Irish Times and Telegraph Book of the Year

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. -- Seán Hewitt
Stephen Sexton is a fabulous poet: gifted with a delicate ear, a humane and generous sensibility, and attentive to both the absurdities and the wonders of modern life. It's a joy to read these unexpected and thrilling poems. -- Nick Laird
Cheryl's Destinies illuminates with a chorus of the dead, the living and the yet to be discovered. Cheryl, who is really into the tarot, is here to foresee, but this collection also excavates. Poems 'mosey through the graveyards of the world' where the dead speak to us and with us. Séance loving Yeats collaborates with Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan (as you do), while Ciarán Carson is remembered with vibrancy as the young poet recounts Carson's influence in Belfast and beyond. Sexton is as imaginative as he is controlled, spinning an enduring and trancey tapestry. At once playful and dystopic, hilarious and original - you won't have read poetry like this. He is a rare talent. -- Elaine Feeney
His pen is fantastical. Cheryl (of the title), tarot card clairvoyant, is conjured out of thin air. She flourishes alongside many other sleights of hand and vanishing acts: there is no knot Sexton cannot slip... many of his phrases are so good I wanted to steal them...Sexton makes the world bearable with poetry as his intercessor. -- Kate Kellaway * The Observer *
Brimful multiplicity... grief-fuelled odysseys, time melting forwards and backwards as Cheryl's tarot evokes Madame Sosostris * Irish Times *
Stephen Sexton writes with such ease and lightness of touch that you're too charmed to check where he's leading you, until you look down and notice, Bugs Bunny-like, that you've walked off a cliff...Sexton writes like a lover of life. His "deliberate happiness" often manifests as a kind of defiant whimsy. He's not, in the end, flinching away from what he can't face, but transforming it with warmth and humour into something luminously strange... He's not whistling through the graveyard to hide his fear, but out of unfeigned joy. Long may he dabble and mosey. -- Tristram Fane Saunders * The Telegraph *
A witty, compassionate act of time travel * Financial Times Books of the Year *
Fleet-footed and irrepressibly charming * The Telegraph Books of the Year *
Opens dazzling windows of wonder into multiple worlds. The patterns in Cheryl's tarot cards reflect time-bending truths about art and history * The Irish Times *
The garden of Cheryl's Destinies is wild, Rousseau-lush, magic-hour lit ... Sexton's flair comes in balancing the otherworldly with the very ordinary, acutely observed detail ... joyous and often very, very funny -- Genevieve Stevens * Poetry Review *
The spring-loaded poems of Cheryl's Destinies foreground questions about art and authenticity, belief and make-believe, the inescapable presence of history and the contingent self in crisis ... many of the poems in Cheryl's Destinies vibrate not only forwards but backwards as Sexton continues to unlock the possibilities of poetic form. -- Maria Johnston * The Times Literary Supplement *

ISBN: 9780141997520

Dimensions: 198mm x 129mm x 6mm

Weight: 89g

112 pages