Industry folk share their favourites for National Poetry Day

Poetry is being shared in all corners of the country on this fine day, as today marks the 19th annual National Poetry Day, which from March this year became known as Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day after the company penned a sponsorship agreement.

In commemoration of the day, we share some favourite poems from people in the industry (and our office, because why not).

As part of the celebrations, today there will be over 80 events held nationwide, involving everyone from seasoned award winners to aspiring poets facing the microphone for the first time, a Phantom release says.

Phantom is well-known in the art scene for supporting poetry, with Phantom pasting poetry posters up and down the country, with prose by mainly Kiwi (and some US) poets like: 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.

Phantom’s founder Jim Wilson also makes a point of sharing New Zealand poets when he travels, pasting up poetry posters whenever he heads abroad.

He says today is a great opportunity to hear more poetry. “There’s the possibility to take it back to the regions that built us,” says Wilson. “We’ve been putting the New Zealand voice out there for some time. Now with this exciting partnership that voice will become louder.”

Phantom also publishes the Café Reader, a free zine-style publication edited by poet David Eggleton seasonally, with each issue full to brim with New Zealand poetry and short stories.

The Phantom release says Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day about discovery, diversity, community and pushing boundaries.

Poetry generates events such as slams, poetry-music jams, poetry art exhibitions, performance poetry, poetry and dance, poetry street chalking, bookshop and library readings, open mic events and poetry writing competitions, events New Zealanders will easily be privy to today if they seek them out.

Nicola Legat, chair of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust says: “We have long admired Phantom’s commitment to putting poems on posters and in cafes via their Café Reader. They are a natural partner given that Phantom’s business is taking messages to the streets and that’s what the New Zealand Book Awards Trust aspires to do with poetry.”

And, in the spirit of the day, here are a few favourite poems from people in the industry and people in our office. Enjoy:

Shared by: Steve Kane, managing director of Y&R

Poem: This is Just to Say – William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
for breakfast
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Shared by: Michelle Walshe, co-founder of Augusto

Poem: Allowables – Shijuade Kadree

Shared by: Kath Watson, chief executive of OMD

Poem: Past the last stop – Sam Hunt

I had a friend who lived
a half-hour walk
past the last bus stop.

We walked it together
so often I cannot
forget every step.

We talked of poems,
the shape of the shore,
the tide that gave it shape.

I wonder what happened,
what of him?
past the last stop, Long Bay,


Shared by: Alex Lawson, group business director of Carat

Poem: If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, 
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, 
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: 

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken 
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, 
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, 
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, 
And lose, and start again at your beginnings 
    And never breathe a word about your loss; 
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew 
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you 
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, 
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, 
    If all men count with you, but none too much; 
If you can fill the unforgiving minute 
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Shared by: Dean Buchanan, group director of entertainment at NZME

Poem: The Ode (For he Fallen) – Laurence Binyon

Shared by: Laura Maxwell, group revenue director at NZME

Poem: Oh, The Places You’ll Go! – Dr Seuss

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And 
you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll
decide where to go.
You’ll get mixed up,
of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with
many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great
tact and remember that
Life’s A Great Balancing Act.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Shared by: Duncan Greive, editor of The Spinoff

​Poem: “Monica”, by Hera Lindsay Bird

Read poem here

Shared by: David MacGregor, co-founder of Idealog magazine.

Poem: By David MacGregor from his book of poems, consisting of scribblings, which, he claims, took no longer than five minutes each to write. 

Shared by: Claudia Macdonald, managing director of Mango

Poem: The Return – Alistair Te Ariki Campbell

And again I see the long pouring headland,
And smoking coast with the sea high on the rocks,
The gulls flung from the sea, the dark hooded hills,
Swarming with mist, and mist low on the sea.

Shared by: Alex Radford, general manager digital, Dentsu Aegis Network

Poem: Dulce et Decorum Est – Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, 
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, 
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs, 
And towards our distant rest began to trudge. 
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots, 
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; 
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots 
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind. 

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling 
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time, 
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling 
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light, 
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. 

In all my dreams before my helpless sight, 
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. 

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace 
Behind the wagon that we flung him in, 
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, 
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin; 
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood 
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, 
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud 
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,— 
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest 
To children ardent for some desperate glory, 
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est 
Pro patria mori.

Shared by: Emma Bolser, managing director of IKON Communications 

Poem: Wild Nights – Wild Nights! – Emily Dickinson

Wild nights – Wild nights! 
Were I with thee 
Wild nights should be 
Our luxury! 

Futile – the winds – 
To a Heart in port – 
Done with the Compass – 
Done with the Chart! 

Rowing in Eden – 
Ah – the Sea! 
Might I but moor – tonight – 
In thee! 

Shared by: David Thomason, chief strategist of FCB

Poem: Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes (AKA Fleas) – Strickland Gillilan

Had ‘em.

Shared by: Simon Coley, co-founder of All Good Organics

Poem: Today I Do Not Want to Be a Doctor by Glen Colquhoun

Today I do not want to be a doctor.
Nobody is getting any better.
Those who were well are sick again
and those who were sick are sicker.
The dying think they will live.
The healthy think they are dying.
Someone has taken too many pills.
Someone has not taken enough.
A woman is losing her husband.
A husband is losing his wife.
The lame want to walk.
The blind want to drive.
The deaf are making too much noise.
The oppressed are not making enough.
The asthmatics are smoking.
The alcoholics are drinking.
The diabetics are eating chocolate.
The mad are beginning to make sense.
Everyone’s cholesterol is high.
Disease will not listen to me

Even when I shake my fist. 

Shared by: Angela Barnett, self-proclaimed chief of propaganda and the dark arts at Karma Cola

Poem: Kristen Schaal (starts four minutes in)

Shared by: Christy Peacock, executive creative director at Whybin\TBWA

Poem: Muhammad Ali


Shared by: Paul Catmur, managing partner and executive creative director at Barnes, Catmur & Friends Dentsu

Poem: In Flanders Fields – John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

And now for some from the Tangible Media team:

Shared by: Damien Venuto, editor of StopPress and NZ Marketing

Poem: Sea – Mxolisi Nyezwa

the sea is so heavy inside us
and i won’t sleep tonight.
i have buckets of memory in a jar
that i keep for days and nights like these.

Shared by: Vernene Medcalf, commercial manager of StopPress and NZ Marketing

Poem: Logical Song – Supertramp, written by Richard Davies & Roger Hodgson

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily,
Joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.
There are times when all the world’s asleep,
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am.
Now watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical,
Liberal, fanatical, criminal.
Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re
Acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable!
At night, when all the world’s asleep,
The questions run so deep
For such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am.

Shared by: Holly Bagge, deputy editor of StopPress and NZ Marketing

Poem: Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall – words by Paul Simon, performed by Simon & Garfunkel

Through the corridors of sleep
Past the shadows dark and deep
My mind dances and leaps in confusion.
I don’t know what is real,
I can’t touch what I feel
And I hide behind the shield of my illusion.

So I’ll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall.

The mirror on my wall
Casts an image dark and small
But I’m not sure at all it’s my reflection.
I am blinded by the light
Of God and truth and right
And I wander in the night without direction.

So I’ll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall.

It’s no matter if you’re born
To play the King or pawn
For the line is thinly drawn ‘tween joy and sorrow,
So my fantasy
Becomes reality,
And I must be what I must be and face tomorrow.

So I’ll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall.

Shared by: Wade Wu, designer at Tangible Media

Poem: Drinking (5) – Tao Yuanming, translated by Yang Xianyi

Within the world of men I make my home, 
Yet din of horse and carriage there is none; 
You ask me how this quiet is achieved — 
With thoughts remote the place appears alone. 
While picking asters ‘neath the Eastern fence 
My gaze upon the Southern mountain rests;
The mountain views are good by day or night, 
The birds come flying homeward to their nests. 
A truth in this reflection lies concealed, 
But I forget how it may be revealed.

Shared by: Julian Pettitt, designer at Tangible Media

Poem: The Beloved – Paul Eduard

She is standing on my eyelids
And her hair is wound in mine,
She has the form of my hands,
She has the colour of my eyes,
She is swallowed by my shadow
Like a stone against the sky
Her eyes are always open
And will not let me sleep.
Her dreams in broad daylight
Make the suns evaporate
Make me laugh, cry and laugh,
Speak with nothing to say

Shared by: Henry Oliver, editor of Idealog

Poem: Why am I not a Painter – Frank O’Hara

Shared by: Anita Hayhoe, advertising manager of Idealog

Poem: Dancing the Siva Samoa – Amber Esau

I want to own myself in your
eyes feel the ruin culminate
in this belonging –
to pretend it’s a song
that roughens at the knees
/ music ashy on falsetto
there’s something hot about breathing
you in while we watch for the fish to pass

scales hanging off the windows
I want to spit the bones out onto saucers
let them prick our tongues on the way out
so maybe we’ll laugh

it begins like that.
it’s coal, yet
; they poured something bruised
over my palms so
black it’s purple, right?
I wipe my hands
(wipe hands)
Relearn, relearn you.
taxed sun, how many
hours make a promise?
did you know that when I was younger
we called that wishing?
day breaks across
our fingers
crumbling into ants
that crawl towards the hipbone.
a drum hails out of flesh.
could break my back
rollie pollies down no tree hill
sticks and grass Snowballs
ones with the mallow middle us. chew chew.
– I don’t owe you secrets / can’t help it.
balancing along the fence
walk the lattice metal top of a pie on its side
and feet begin to slip rip
-don’t end up grazes / can’t help it.
stand out in the sun when
it’s mounted at the points of trees
yes, it dares for fingers popping tapioca pearls

so what if we have fish bones
pierced through our cheeks?
that’s irony.
that’s jaw metal coins we might
hand over for the soul boat
have them ready together
the water dances on us as us
that’s how movement should be
a certain angle of stippling

beneath this open bracket moon
hands that twine wind
struggle on bloom
go to catch us sprinting
with our mothers with our fathers
don’t get too puffed out
to say nothing we didn’t
, Babe, learn the sand
that shakes out of rock
(treat its dilution)
learn to sew
a quilted tongue
warm on.
it gets better as we season
the laziest heats
that we can’t move in with a tree’s kiss
tell me
(mouthing doesn’t mean shit)
tell me
(the branch broke in my wallet)
how much could we buy this sky for?
Getting semi-Magritte on you, yeah
and still bark cracked veins
enter the gates.

that bird’s nest
(from different kinds)
worn like a metal grass skirt
around Pulotu.
watch Cerberus-threedog dance the Sāsā
slapping his chest, shoulders,
elbows, bend easy fish bones
they’re sharp as tears
our own a weapon fragile.

our own, an unsheathing.
I’ll be dressed in an ‘Ie Toga
and you know, who will care?
I’ll carry up the Taupou’s knife
and feel a path around my eyeliner.
there’s a pastry lipped
way of the spin
don’t, worry, is hard to know
when a clock bends its back
dawn’s reversal
the March
the drum roll
on tin boxes
think of all those echoes
that bridge while we wait
and tell me again
I’m graceful
if only for the second
(feed a heart its own
lasts longer.)
falling slowly to my knees
arc my back
fingers river-ed on air
a stream-dancing.

my baby oiled skin trace imprints
of this sky
watch yourself dance with me
on this floor
turning hooks as needles
stitch ourselves an ocean
one petal on scale
then another
watch our hands weave over
and over
the faint wash of frangipani petals
the snap of freshly caught fish
the way our knees click together
as we curl this kind of embroidery
on top of a granite platform.

Shared by: Ben Mack, digital editor of Idealog

Poem: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening – Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

Shared by: Jonathan Cotton, previous digital editor of Idealog   

Poem: Fire and Ice – Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire, 
Some say in ice. 
From what I’ve tasted of desire 
I hold with those who favor fire. 
But if it had to perish twice, 
I think I know enough of hate 
To say that for destruction ice 
Is also great 
And would suffice.

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