Photo: Stephen Sexton. Photo credit: Michael Weir.
Stephen Sexton (b. 1988, Belfast) spent a lot of time when he was nine years old playing Super Mario World. If All the World and Love Were Young remaps the pastoral tradition onto the familiar Nintendo landscapes; like Milton’s ‘Lycidas’ it is a pastoral elegy, in this case for the poet’s mother. He began work on the sequence in 2015, and in his own words ‘soon realised that this particular game was so much a part of my childhood that I couldn’t write about it without thinking of my childhood, and I couldn’t write about my childhood without thinking of grief’. But the poems, like the best pastorals, still retain a real sense of freshness and wonder well summarised by the collection’s familiar epigraph: ‘It’s a-me, Mario!’
Sexton’s first pamphlet, Oils (Emma Press), was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice; he won an Eric Gregory Award in 2018. He lives in Belfast, where he teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry.