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The 20/20 Collection

To mark the 20th anniversary of Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day, we asked 20 acclaimed Kiwi poets to choose one of their own poems – a work that spoke to New Zealand now. They were also asked to select something by another poet they saw as essential reading in 2017. The result is the 20/20 Collection, a selection of forty poems that reflect the diverse and vibrant range of voices in our contemporary literature.

The final, complete collection is available below, or you can download the free electronic version via this link: The 20/20 Collection. Follow this additional link for our Teachers' Notes.

The 20/20 poets, paired with their choice, are as follows: Jenny Bornholdt/ Ish Doney, Diana Bridge/ John Dennison, David Eggleton/ Leilani Tamu, Paula Green/ Simone Kaho, Michael Harlow/Paul Schimmel, Kevin Ireland/ Gregory Kan, Andrew Johnston/ Bill Nelson, Bill Manhire/ Louise Wallace, Selina Tusitala Marsh/ Reihana Robinson, Cilla McQueen/ David Kārena-Holmes, James Norcliffe/ Marisa Cappetta, Vincent O’Sullivan/ Lynley Edmeades, Tusiata Avia/ Teresia Teaiwa, Richard Reeve/Michael Steven, Elizabeth Smither/ Rob Hack, C. K. Stead/ Johanna Emeney, Robert Sullivan/ Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Apirana Taylor/ Kiri Piahana-Wong, Brian Turner/ Jillian Sullivan, Alison Wong/ Chris Tse.

Welcome to our 20th anniversary celebration!

Children

Bill Manhire

The likelihood is
the children will die
without you to help them do it.
It will be spring,
the light on the water,
or not.

And though at present
they live together
they will not die together.
They will die one by one
and not think to call you:
they will be old

and you will be gone.
It will be spring,
or not. They may be crossing
the road,
not looking left,
not looking right,

or may simply be afloat at evening
like clouds unable
to make repair. That
one talks too much, that one
hardly at all: and they both enjoy
the light on the water

much as we enjoy
the sense
of indefinite postponement. Yes
it’s a tall story but don’t you think
full of promise, and he’s just a kid
but watch him grow.

from Selected Poems
(Victoria University Press)

Bill Manhire

Award winning Wellington poet, fiction and creative non-fiction writer Bill Manhire has been a significant figure in the promotion of New Zealand poetry and literature. He is particularly known for founding New Zealand’s first creative writing program through Victoria University. Graduates of this include many leading poets, fiction writers and script writers.

Regarded as one of the greatest New Zealand poets of his era, Manhire was New Zealand’s inaugural Poet Laureate (1997-1998), and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. His awards include the Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry, an Arts Foundation laureateship, and New Zealand Book Award for Poetry (four times). He is a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and been named an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate. Manhire also holds an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of Otago.

Bill Manhire’s Choice: ‘The Poi Girls’ by Louise Wallace