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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!


Cilla McQueen

Time comes when my compass
trembles to your true absence

and I must turn you
to the third person,

whispering to the kowhai,
the patient constructions of spiders,

to the frost, he is history, gone
from this round world, he is starlight.

from Fire-Penny
(Otago University Press)

Cilla McQueen

Poet, performer and artist Cilla McQueen has published 14 poetry collections to date during her impressive career. She was the New Zealand Poet Laureate (2009–2011), and was presented the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry (2010). Three-time winner of the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry, her extensive list of accolades includes the PEN/Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry (1983), John Cowie Reid Memorial Prize for Poetry (1982), and Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council Scholarship in Letters (1992). Her poetry, often laced with humour, explores such diverse themes as displacement, love, loss, colonisation and ideas of home, modern science and politics.

Her most recent collection, In a Slant Light – a Poet’s Memoir, was published by Otago University Press (2016).

Cilla lives in Bluff, New Zealand.

Cilla McQueen’s Choice: ‘Your Being’ by David Kārena-Holmes