20-20 poet page Hero Image

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!

Big Bang

Diana Bridge


Your ground is the first backdrop, black as when God
hovered over the waters before He let light in.
Then light came, washing through crevices that opened,
like these holes, in the darkness. Though you and I
have slipped its moorings, still we give it space,
that ancient story, remembering the days
when we sought sides and a roof to our world.

Now the metaphors lie far apart. But there are times––
that moment when you turn to your tools, your fibreglass
and casein, and lift from your storehouse a way of saying,
‘Then there was movement’––when I am sure that
the grand canvases of the imagination converge, if only
for an instant. It has taken time to get here, but long before
we knew to write it down our race has liked a prologue.


Bang goes the hierophant! Here is one joyous immediate.
Last time I looked it was a garden: a shower of dots
carried along on beaded tracks I took for pods or bulbs
among a tracery of ornamental paths. But, see,
the skin too is a garden, its inlaid topiary idiom small
as the whorl of your thumb, or large as the skin’s
whole imprint. Formations ad infinitum. Full fathom
five they fountain. Not quite a mayhem of choice
as referents fissure and switch, but––now we have
stars, as many as you like. This lace is the night sky;
there cells unfold like flights of living thoughts.
Microscopic, macroscopic, their reach is the same.

Here is the moment of origin. You set it against
the white of a wall. And summon the blank of before.

from In the supplementary garden
(Cold Hub Press)

Diana Bridge

Wellington poet Diana Bridge has published six collections of poems, the latest of which, aloe & other poems, came out in 2009. She was awarded the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award in 2010, for her distinguished contribution to New Zealand poetry, and her essay, "An attachment to China" won the 2014 Landfall essay competition. In 2015 she won the prestigious Sarah Broom Poetry Prize. Bridge has spent many years stationed overseas with her diplomat husband in London, Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong, Delhi and Taipei. She has a PhD in Chinese Literature from the Australian National University and has studied, researched and taught Chinese language, literature and art history and early Indian art history.

Diana Bridge’s Choice: ‘Sleepers’ by John Dennison