Phantom's poster-boy for NZ poetry

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  • February 9, 2012
  • Cath Winks
Phantom's poster-boy for NZ poetry

Now, no matter where you are in the world, you're never far from a poem reminding you of home. It's all thanks to a project started in 2009 by Phantom's Jim Wilson. So... what's the reason for all this rhyme?

For two years Phantom's Jim Wilson travelled to cities and towns throughout the USA and put poem posters by Kiwi poets on poles, walls and in cafes and stores. Then a group of verse-loving volunteers also put these poem posters up in cities from London, Glasgow, Paris and Vienna through to Sydney, Australia. Meanwhile, back here in New Zealand, Wilson’s company Phantom Billstickers Ltd put up thousands of Kiwi poems on walls and poster bollards from Invercargill to Whangarei. Now eight of New Zealand’s finest poets bring their voices, hearts, and words to a live performance poetry event in New York City.

The Phantom Billstickers Poems on Posters initiative has attracted international media interest, but more importantly the poems themselves have been read on the streets.  So who are these self-proclaimed Band of Bards hoping to wow the iambic pentameters off New York's finest literati?

Poem by Chris Knox

 

They are Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, David Eggleton, Hinemoana Baker, Sandra Bell, Jay Clarkson, Pamela Gordon (reading Janet Frame), Otis Mace and Tusiata Avia.

The inspiration 
Printing poems on posters is largely about hope. This world is sometimes hard and is often a painful and ugly place. (!) The goal of the Poems on Posters Project is to give poets a hearing and bring a softer voice into the streets. This is what has been missing: the heart and voice of the poet which is something that everyone can understand. Poem posters are “Flora for the Concrete Jungle” and they are uplifting.

Jim Wilson founded Phantom Billstickers, New Zealand's biggest poster and street-media company in 1982, to give musicians, the arts, and creative people in New Zealand a voice, and to use posters on walls to put bums on seats. Now his aim is to use posters to share the heart of the Kiwi poet with people outside of New Zealand.

On Jim’s mission to spread the word, he spent two years traveling across the United States putting up poem posters in the streets. Many large cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, New Orleans, Seattle, Memphis and San Francisco got a “good pasting” but venues off the beaten track were not immune. Jim also traveled the back alleys off of Highway 61, braved the mid-summer heat in the rural south (Tennessee and Mississippi are particularly close to his heart), and chipped ice off of some telephone poles and notice boards in Central Vermont and Northern New Hampshire to put up poem posters.

Poets from New Zealand and the United States who have had their work featured on poem posters as a part of this project include: Aroha Harris, Becky Woodall, Ben Brown, Bernadette Hall, Bill Direen, Bill Manhire, Brett Lupton, Brian Turner, Campbell McKay, Chris Price, Chris Knox, David Eggleton, Dylan Kemp, Elizabeth Smither, Frankie McMillan, Gary Langford, Gary McCormick, Geoff Cochrane, Gerald Stern, Hilaire Campbell, Hinemoana Baker, Hone Tuwhare, Jackie Steincamp, James K Baxter, James Milne (aka Lawrence Arabia), Janet Frame, Jay Clarkson, Jeffery McCaleb, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Jody Lloyd, Joe Treceno, Jordan Luck, Josie McQuail, Keri Hulme, Laurence Arabia, Marcie Sims, Marty Smith, Michael White, Michele Leggott, Nicholas Thomas, Otis Mace, Pablo Nova, Patrick Connors, Rhian Gallagher, Robert Creeley, Robert Pinsky, Roger Hickin, Sam Hunt, Sandra Bell, Selina Marsh, Serie Barford, Sonja Yelich, Stephen Oliver and Tusiata Avia

For more about the Phantom Billstickers Poems on Posters project click here.

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