Best New Zealand Poems

Best New Zealand Poems—published annually by the International Institute of Modern Letters—aims to introduce readers to leading contemporary New Zealand poets.

Welcome from Chris Price

Best New Zealand Poems is published annually by the International Institute of Modern Letters, and aims to introduce readers—especially internationally—to leading contemporary New Zealand poets. The poems are chosen to show the vitality and range of current writing. We have shamelessly modelled this online project on the successful US paperback anthology, The Best American Poetry. Each year we publish 25 poems from recent literary magazines and poetry collections, where possible including notes about and by the poet, as well as links to related publishing and literary websites. In this way we hope that readers will be able to follow up fresh discoveries. There are plenty to be made.

This year finds us in a period of transition from our longstanding partner and host, the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, to a new home, a process that has unavoidably detained this issue beyond our usual early April launch date. We are grateful to Max Sullivan, Michael Parry and the NZETC for their commitment to Best New Zealand Poems over the last decade, and to poet Rachel O’Neill, who has designed and produced the new website for Best New Zealand Poems 2016,  reinventing the structure and adding new features such as author photos.  We will eventually relocate all back issues of the journal to a new platform, which will offer a welcome chance to fix the now somewhat broken aspects of our earliest issues.

Best New Zealand Poems has recently begun to travel across linguistic as well as national borders. We are delighted that our colleagues at Waiteata Press have this year followed up their English/Chinese print bilingual edition of Best New Zealand Poems 2014 with translator Francesca Benocci’s English/Italian edition of Best New Zealand Poems 2015.  

The editorship of Best New Zealand Poems changes annually. This year’s editor is Jenny Bornholdt. Earlier editors were John Newton (2015), Vincent O'Sullivan (2014), Mark Williams and Jane Stafford (2013), Ian Wedde (2012), Bernadette Hall (2011), Chris Price (2010), Robyn Marsack (2009), James Brown (2008), Paula Green (2007), Anne Kennedy and Robert Sullivan (2006), Andrew Johnston (2005), Emma Neale (2004), Robin Dudding (2003), Elizabeth Smither (2002) and Iain Sharp (2001).

The 2017 editor will be Selina Tusitala Marsh.

Bill Manhire is the founding editor, and was Series Editor from 2001-2010. With Damien Wilkins, he co-edited a print anthology, The Best of Best New Zealand Poems (Victoria University Press, 2011), which offers a condensed view of the first decade.

Best New Zealand Poems is supported by a grant from Creative New Zealand, whose assistance we greatly appreciate.  We remain grateful to the late Ralph Hotere (1931-2013) for permission to use his drawing for the first edition of James K Baxter's Jerusalem Sonnets (Bibliography Room, University of Otago, 1970) on our opening page.

Chris Price

Series Editor

May 2017

Read Best New Zealand poems online

Please visit our dedicated Best New Zealand Poems website to browse the current issue or any previous issue.

Submission guidelines

Submissions for Best New Zealand Poems 2017 close on  close on 18 December 2017.

What to submit

  • Only poems or books of poems by New Zealanders published within the calendar year of the current collection are eligible for consideration. (Unpublished poems may be submitted to our other annual online collection, Turbine | Kapohau . )
  • Poems or collections published in print or in online journals, and in local or international publications, are eligible provided the publication date falls within the calendar year.
  • Blogs will generally not be eligible publication sources.
  • Publishers may submit books, magazines, journals or links to online journals that meet these criteria.
  • Individual poets may also submit published poems or books directly.
  • Please note the specific guidelines about electronic submissions under 'How to Submit' below.

When to submit

You may send submissions for Best New Zealand Poems 2017 at any time during the calendar year, provided they reach the IIML by 18 December 2017.

How to submit

Books, journals or larger selections of individual poems (more than five poems or ten pages) must be submitted in hard copy.

This is because our guest editors generally prefer to read on paper, and the volume of submissions we receive makes it impractical to print out many large documents.

If you are unable to provide a copy of a book or journal, you are welcome to send us a printed copy of the manuscript instead.

Postal submissions should be directed to:

BNZP editor
c/o International Institute of Modern Letters
Victoria University
PO Box 600
New Zealand

Individual poems or a small selection of poems (less than five poems or ten pages) may be submitted electronically, preferably as attachments, to:

  • Please put 'BNZP submission' in the subject line.
  • Selections of poems should be submitted as a single document with the poet's name in the title and page breaks between each poem.
  • Include your name and contact email on each page of your submission.
  • Mac users sending MS Word attachments should save them first in Rich Text Format and add a ".rtf" suffix to each filename. Alternatively you may submit in pdf format.
  • We do not accept whole manuscripts in electronic form. Submissions of e-book-only publications can be made in the form of a printed pdf copy, with a link to the publication site.

Whether posting or emailing, please include the following information with each individual submission:

  • The place and date of publication of each poem submitted (including URL if relevant).
  • Your name, email and the poem title on each page you submit.
  • an email address for acknowledgement of receipt and any further communication.
  • If submitting a journal, anthology or collected work for consideration, it would be very helpful if you could note whether all poems included are eligible, or specify which poems are / are not eligible.

What happens after you submit

  • Receipt of email submissions will be acknowledged with an automated reply. If you have asked a question, or if we need to check anything or ask for more details, we will follow up with you as soon as possible. Otherwise your submission will be forwarded to our guest editor.
  • Postal submissions will be acknowledged if an email address is included with the submission.
  • Publishers and / or authors of selected poems will be contacted by February of the following year. For all accepted material, copyright remains with the author (or in some instances the original publisher) upon publication. Due to the volume of submissions, we are unable to contact individual poets and publishers to advise if work has not been selected.
  • The editors are unable to engage in correspondence regarding individual submissions.

The new collection is launched in late March or early April each year.