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Book Launch: Cheryl’s Destinies by Stephen Sexton

30m Literature, Poetry 2021

To celebrate the launch of Stephen Sexton’s collection Cheryl’s Destinies (published by Penguin), in August 2021 the Seamus Heaney Centre gathered in the Great Hall at Queen’s University Belfast.

The event was introduced by SHC Coordinator Rachel Brown, and ends with some short pieces to camera by a couple of Stephen’s students and colleagues, Elizabeth McIntosh and Shannon Kelly.

About the book: 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.

The Seamus Heaney Centre




United Kingdom