The 25th year of Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day was possibly the biggest yet. Over 170 events took place around the motu, bringing the energy and vibe of in-person poetry to thousands. Online #NZPoetryDay trended for most of the day on 26 August, and music and poetry thrummed into the night!

The announcement of the new Poet Laureate, Chris Tse, was greeted with much enthusiasm in the media and amongst Aotearoa’s poets. Our outgoing Poet Laureate, David Eggleton, completed his tenure with a 22-event tour around Aotearoa, culminating with an evening event at the National Library. Our finalist and winner poets in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, Serie Barford, Tayi Tibble, Anne Kennedy and Joanna Preston, took part in Songs of the Poem in Beresford Square as part of the Auckland Writers Festival, performing readings accompanied by talented musicians.

All around Aotearoa exciting and creative events thrilled audiences and inspired poets and the public. There were workshops, poetry walks, tramping card games, readings in churches, bars, theatres, bookshops, and libraries. Poetry was inscribed on hospital walls, billboards, beaches, and streets.

A large contingent of schools and organisations for young people celebrated with competitions, workshops, and poetry slams. Timaru’s high schools are set to make their Slam an annual event after this year’s debut, and Word – The Front Line, facilitated by Action Education and the South Auckland Poets’ Collective, held their semi-final heats to coincide with the day. Chicken and Frog Bookstore decorated Featherston with poetry for children, and Maoriland in Otaki held a workshop for rangitahi, as did many others!

‘It was a fabulous feeling to have poetry out in the community in person again for our 25th year, after two years of mostly virtual celebrations. The energy and hum on the day was palpable and the devotion of our poets to Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day is impressive to see,’ says Erica Stretton, National Poetry Day’s co-ordinator.