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If All the World and Love Were Young

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  91 ratings  ·  18 reviews
'Every poem in this book is a marvel. Taken all together they make up a work of almost miraculous depth and beauty' Sally Rooney

'A poetry debut fit to compare with Seamus Heaney. This wonderful long poem is up there with the greats' Sunday Times

Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection

When Stephen Sexton was young, video games were a way to slip through
...more
Paperback, 115 pages
Published August 29th 2019 by Penguin
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 ·  91 ratings  ·  18 reviews


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Dannii Elle
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
"for no reason except for
being alone I try to scream into the wildness of the world.
I make no sound: the flakes of snow are noisier in the falling
the berries are loud with colour on the back windowsill a bird
has written its name in footprints a handful of steps at the door.
The voice is made of whatever is left how the world is dented.


This poetry collection piece together a memoir of Stephen Sexton's younger years, structured around his obsession with Super Mario World. I had anticipated this to
...more
rosamund
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, irish-lit
Ive been looking forward to this collection for months, having admired Stephen Sextons work since I first heard him read from his pamphlet, Oils. I was not disappointed! This is an imaginative, moving and fresh narrative poem. The title, If All the World and Love Were Young, comes from a pastoral poem by Walter Raleigh, while the poems themselves follow the structure of Super Mario World, each section named after a level of the game. This collision of lyric tradition and innovative, modern ...more
Lee
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some poems seemed to less successfully circle the same things others absolutely nailed, and for me it was a question of opacity: when the poems are more quotidian and less obscure they work better.

Front Door

In through the translucent panels of the front door stained
with roses
here and there their green stems wander sun patterns the
cavernous hall
with rose outlines the wood panelled box came sharp-cornered
the TV
so heavy to look at it cut into my clavicle was it
full of cannonballs and was it
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Paul
Mar 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Sometimes a way of coping with events in the real world is to head back to the things that gave you comfort in the past. For Stephen Sexton this means heading to the world of Super Mario Kart, where he spent lots of his youth racing against the characters in this colourful and larger than life world. It was a place that infused his reality and gave him lots of happy memories to look back on.

It is this nostalgic place that he returns to in this book frequently as the poems take us through the
...more
Caoilinn
This is an extraordinary, moving collection of poems whose dense, constrained forms are the forms the intellect takes when it is coping; the self takes when it can, as it must; when the subject envelopes. This book is as rich + sustaining, as memorable + inimitable as is the loved one's voice. You will follow it across the Causeway, into the beached whale in Donegal, into the pixelated hyacinths and the heavy rain. With the munificent vocabulary of Alan Gillis and the gut-punched wisdom of Anne ...more
Pickle Farmer
Sep 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This was ok. I think I like the idea of this book more than the actual content contained within. It's a collection of poems based on Super Mario and is mainly about a mother's death from cancer and memory. The Super Mario theme is obvs metaphorical for going on a journey, a quest, etc. I liked the poem about the uncle who was a miner, who died in Tasmania, as it creates an interesting parallel with Mario (who's a miner himself of sorts, isn't he?). The comparisons of Mario w Dante were also v ...more
Zeba Clarke
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this collection. I read a review which intrigued me because the book is about the poet's memories of the years when as a teenager he played Super Mario World whilst his mother was going through treatment for cancer. It's dense, allusive, it sounds beautiful, and it demands reading and re-reading. I can see it would not be every person's cup of tea, but I found it very beautiful and heartbreaking.

There is a section at the end called CREDITS which is a guide to all the influences
...more
Konstantin R.
Jan 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, serious
[rating = B]
Dealing with the death of his mother, Stephen Sexton blends Mario and the sadness of loss in interesting ways. Although sometimes the blend was too close-knit, once you got the rhythm of the poetry, it was easier going. I am disappointed in the edition though; Sexton's lines are long and the publisher should have made the pages wider to accommodate them (instead, they had to awkwardly be enjambed). At times there is a brilliance of emotion and reality, or avoidance of reality, there
...more
Lucy Howard-Taylor
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of those rare and precious books: the world seems different after reading it.
Dan Power
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
If you enjoyed/want to enjoy this book please dont read this review: I didnt like it anywhere near as much as I thought I would and so Ive gone ott trying to work out/justify why)

As a gamer (so so sorry), this didnt in any way chime with my own experiences of ecstasy or melancholy or even mindless escape into the digital world it felt like a series of cryptic level synopses in clunky prose.
Having not played Super Mario World a lot of this collection felt like nostalgia for something Id never
...more
dbirdan
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
and now I think I / remember what I mean to say which is only that once / when all the world and love was young I saw it beautiful glowing / once in the corner of the room once I was sitting in its light

I want my monument to be composed of light you might say / so you can see it friend not things themselves but the seeing of them / the light stopping on them tree I adore you I adore you world

These are the days of no letters her signature starved with jitters / in the few half hours shes awake to
...more
Libbysbookshelf
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
IF ALL THE WORLD AND LOVE WERE YOUNG by STEPHEN SEXTON

Dylan Thomas Prize Longlist #4

A collection of poems about loss and Super Mario... Im not joking. And neither is the poet. These are very serious, very sad poems that blur the lines between video games and real life. Real life, in this case, is his mothers illness and slow death. Definitely something from which youd need to escape.

I would never have read this had it not been for @dylanthomasprize and thats whats great about reading long
...more
Bronte
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it
So, I love the concept and I can definitely see a new trend of combining poetry with pop culture references. It helps poetry collections become more enticing and accessible to non-poetry readers, and provides the perfect gift for 90s kids.

There are definitely some beautiful, sad poems in this collection and its easy to see that Sexton is a talented and skilled poet. However, the structure of the levels and keeping to the theme sometimes felt constricting to me. I felt like some poems were
...more
Angelique
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At first I was like this is not how I remember Yoshis House...but as it went on, invoking Super Mario World made all the poems have an extra edge and a real landscape. I forced myself to stay up to finish them all because it felt like both something I couldnt put down and some of its power lies in being completed in one sitting. Like finishing a game when I had a full day to play it, its like a condescending version of that.

Poems I liked more than the rest - Chocolate Island 5 (it probably
...more
Jack Wright
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best book I read in 2019. Examining loss and grief through the lens of video games and childhood fascination - unbelievable. Lucid and uniquely emotional.
Joseph Joyce
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking and beautiful.
Vuk Trifkovic
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just lovely. Mario Bros-inspired poems about memory, grief and loss.
Chris Norton
Amazing. A collection that explores grief by fusing "real life" with Super Mario World? Finally a poet who speaks my language. I'm kidding, but I'm serious.
Jess (PassportsandPaperbacks)
rated it did not like it
Jan 13, 2020
Vicki Husband
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Jan 05, 2020
Josh Rees
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Dec 29, 2019
Beth
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Feb 26, 2020
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Sep 05, 2019
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Grant Lamb
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Dec 15, 2019
Ffi
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Feb 20, 2020
Joel
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Dec 06, 2019
Robin Boothroyd
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Sep 04, 2019
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Jan 17, 2020
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Sep 21, 2019
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