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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!

Avaiki Rain

Leilani Tamu

as the spring rain
caresses my face
on a distant shore

I find myself longing
for Avaiki

the way
she used to rock
me to sleep

cradle me
in her midnight
embrace

take my muted grief
and grant it the right

to echo

among her slender peaks
in the presence of great chiefs
and fallen warriors

the solace she gave me
when all that was left
was the rain

from The Art of Excavation
(Anahera Press)

Leilani Tamu

Leilani Tamu is a former NZ diplomat, 2017 parliamentary candidate (for the NZ Greens), published poet, mother, historian, Fulbright alumna, first class masters graduate and freelance public policy analyst.

Born in Auckland with ancestral and marital ties to Samoa, Tonga and Niue, she has made her mark on NZ's cultural landscape by sharing a much-needed perspective in a range of fora.

She has just completed her second book - a poetic political degustation - 'Cultural Diplomacy'. It is currently being considered for publication. Watch this space...