20-20 poet page Hero Image

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!

Knowing what it’s about

Vincent O’Sullivan

This woman who’s the quiet one
in any group of women thinks it
a fair morning’s work, this setting free
a bee that’s tangled to one of a dozen
webs on a garage door. At first
the bee’s too minutely shackled
to deal with air again and the stagger
as it always seems along the flowering
hedge, until it’s placed on the glove
on her left hand and the naked forefinger
of her right dabs at it gently as though
at a child’s eye, and the wings begin
to work, angrily almost, and the body
straightens, and the ‘furred bullet’, that’s
what she once read of a demented
bee, fires back into the day, into
the sun’s endless paddocks and the rocking
gusts, into a life ‘more direct than
ours’, she says, ‘knowing what it’s about’.

from And so it is
(Victoria University Press)

Vincent O’Sullivan

Vincent O’Sullivan has long been recognized as one of New Zealand’s significant literary figures, through his extensive publications as a short story writer, novelist, biographer, playwright, and editor, as well as for his many volumes of poetry. He has received Montana Awards for poetry as well as for fiction, the Prime Minister's Award in 2005, in 2000 was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and was New Zealand Poet Laureate 2013-2015. Vincent lives in Dunedin.

Vincent O’Sullivan’s Choice: ‘Contained’ by Lynley Edmeades