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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!

The whys and Zs

Bill Nelson

His last four years have nothing to say,
not because they don’t want to

but because there are no real words
to choose from.

Like a who’s who in a who-dunnit
the mystery resolves itself.

The first wrinkle around the mouth,
the weather and waterskiing.

You can have the wallpapering.
You can have the whist.

He whispers something about zippers
and cultured milk

and then his arms are crossed
over his chest.

Like a sarcophagus, like a bat sleeping,
like an X.

from Memorandum of Understanding
(Victoria University Press)

Bill Nelson

Bill Nelson lives in Wellington. His poems have appeared in Sport, Hue & Cry, Shenandoah, Minarets,The 4th Floor,Swamp and Blackmail Press, and he has worked on collaborative projects with Footnote Dance and City Gallery Wellington. In 2009 he won the Biggs Family Prize in Poetry from the International Institute of Modern Letters. He is also a writer and co-editor of Up Country, an online journal about outdoor pursuits. 'The whys and Zs' is part of a series of poems featuring text mined from an old copy of How to do Just About Anything by The Readers Digest.