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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!


Johanna Emeney

He has texted you again,
bored in his empty apartment.
The same old game.

Blunt thumbs
pad out a sharp name,
send and save.

You force a wry smile,
brush it off,
This is just his style.

And now you are in tears,
your face a summer window,
shown up,

with the traces
of hasty erasure.

All day,
you keep the phone
in your pocket,

with spent emotion
and unsent words.

All day,
your mind ticks over
The Parthian Shot

that will invite no rejoinder,
that will say it all
in three lines – or under.

from Apple & Tree
(Cape Catley)

Johanna Emeney

Johanna Emeney spent fourteen years in the UK, where she studied Japanese and Literature at Cambridge University, and taught English Literature at Gresham's School in Norfolk. She now lives back on Auckland's North Shore with her husband David, and their cats and goats. She works as a tutor at Massey University, and also runs workshops for both young and older people, including the Young Writers Programme on behalf of the Michael King Writers' Centre, Devonport, with her friend Rosalind Ali. Her new book, Family History is just out with Mākaro Press.