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!


Ish Doney

Autumn is the season
for suitcases.
Leaves and leaving.

Each morning I stand at my wardrobe
trying to pack quickly, lightly.
Each night I empty bags onto the floor
and fall asleep.

The tiny clenched muscle,
like your little fists,
the beat of it
says we should have been okay.
Five per cent.
We should have been okay.

Autumn is the season
for being left behind.
I miss your departure,
too busy buying baby
clothes. Take a taxi home
and eat three packets
of two-minute noodles.

‘Broken’ is what they’ve named you.
My body rids itself
of tissue.
The heartbeat.
The fists.
You weren’t holding on.

Winter is the season
for staying in bed,
the wind crying to be changed,
the fridge needing to be fed.


from Where the fish grow
(Hoopla: Mākaro Press, 2016)

Ish Doney

They called her Ishmaêl, and when Ish Doney was little, children called her Ish-the-male and the children’s parents quoted Moby-Dick. Ish’s mum had wanted to name her daughter after an album she liked called …ish. Ish doesn’t like the album. Her biological father protested on the grounds that ‘…ish’ was not a proper name. Together they found the name Ismail and tried to feminise the spelling. They apologise, all they had was the Encyclopaedia Britannica and a baby name book. After completing a design degree in Wellington, Ish has been living in Europe. This is her first book.