"Players are inventive and curious"
Video games can inspire players to create all sorts of works, and poetry is no exception! Author Stephen Sexton has just released a new book of poetry titled “If All the World and Love Were Young” that’s inspired by his own life experiences and Super Mario World on the SNES.
In an interview with Nintendo Life, Sexton comments on how Super Mario World led to this collection of poems, and the link between video game players and an understanding of poetry.
Nintendo Life: How did the idea for If All the World and Love Were Young come about?
I started it by accident. As part of a Creative Writing PhD project, I was writing poems responding to paintings or photographs and I became increasingly bored. In a fit of mischief, I thought, why not take a familiar image instead of a classical one?
Out of nowhere, really, came Super Mario World’s landscapes. It’s my favourite game, and I think the most perfect. I started to write a poem for every level, from Yoshi’s Island to the Forest of Illusion, treating them as real places. Partway in, I felt more and more drawn to the memories of playing, in my house in the countryside, looking out the window into the ‘real’ world. My mother was still alive then (she died in 2012), and the longer I thought about my childhood, the more I thought about her. Suddenly, I was writing a book about grief – something buried so deeply I had to trick myself into writing about it.
Have you found there’s much overlap between poetry readers and Mario players?
There have been people who may not read poetry who came to the book for the Mario. But it doesn’t surprise me that people who like video games might like poetry, or literature more broadly. Sometimes, people who don’t understand video games think it’s a passive experience, that one sits before a screen doing nothing. What we know is the video game can be a deeply engaging, imaginative experience: players are inventive and curious, able to interpret signs and symbols. These are the skills poetry readers have too.
It’s fascinating to see how video games can inspire different kinds of artists and how others can relate to them in both broad and specific ways. “If All the World and Love Were Young” is available now at bookstores nationwide.
Click here to read the full interview for more insight into its development.