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!

The late news

Michael Harlow

This little boy
with his new number-one
haircut, his heart full of surprise,
clutching his end-of-the-year report card
to his chest, crossing High Street
for the last time – without looking
both ways

His black and white dog,
her snappy tail on fast forward
waiting for him, ears pricked,
on the other side, the cars
streaming by

Mother at the upstairs
open window, ironing
the family clothes, humming
a familiar tune for company,
just before raising her head
to look down into the street
of the dead

Later, on the late news
someone, a bystander looking
for some lost words – that kid
he said. Not a chance.
You know today is the longest
day of the year, and it’s
going to last forever

from Nothing For It But To Sing
(Otago University Press)

Michael Harlow

Central Otago writer and editor Michael Harlow has published ten poetry collections. Among his many achievements, in 2014 Michael received the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for Distinguished Contribution to New Zealand Poetry and the PEN/NZ Best First Book of Prose. Most recently, Michael received the PSNZ/Beatson Fellowship Award (2016).

Associate and poetry editor at Landfall for ten years, Michael was also editor for the Caxton Press Poetry series. He has been panellist and judge for national and international poetry competitions, and represented NZSA on the Burns Fellowship selection committee (three terms). Michael’s book of poems, Nothing For It But To Sing, won the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Prize (2015).

Michael Harlow’s Choice: ‘With Words’ by Paul Schimmel