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The 20/20 Collection

In 2017, 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!


Andrew Johnston

South of the past,
dreaming she was still alive,

Echo came in low, under the dateline,
over the mudflats, mirroring.

To see the plane kiss its shadow
she would have to be somewhere else

but she sees it, she sees everything
kissing everything. She was the pool,

his face bending lovely, lips
touching down.

from Fits and Starts
(Victoria University Press)

Andrew Johnston

Andrew Johnston is a New Zealand poet, critic and editor who lives in France. His books of poems include Fits & Starts (2016) which recently won the 2017 Ockham Book Award for Poetry, Sol (2007), Birds of Europe (2000), The Open Window (1999), The Sounds (1996) and How to Talk (1993), which won the 1994 New Zealand Book Award for Poetry.

Johnston was the co-editor, with Robyn Marsack, of Twenty Contemporary New Zealand Poets, published in 2009 by Carcanet, UK, and Victoria University Press, New Zealand. He also edited Moonlight: New Zealand Poems on Death and Dying (Random House, 2008). In 2007 he was the J D Stout Research Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington.

(Bio photo credit: Peter Black, 2017)

Andrew Johnston’s Choice: ‘The whys and Zs’ by Bill Nelson