Glenn Colquhoun, born in South Auckland in 1964 and currently living in the Hokianga, follows in the great doctor–poet tradition.
He began training early as a minister but he became disillusioned with organised religion moments before organised religion became disillusioned with him. He never went back. Instead, he took an English degree from the University of Auckland and worked as a builder, a cook and in emergency housing before deciding at the age of 26 to become a doctor.
Half way through his medical degree, he took time out to learn more about Maori who featured prominently among his patients but about whom he knew little. A kuia from the North took him to several Maori communities she was connected to including Te Tii, where Glenn decided to live for a while, closely involved in the local community and learning Maori.
He returned to his studies, finished his medical degree and worked at Whangarei Hospital and in Intensive Care at Waikato Hospital. He is now training to be a GP.
His first book, The Art of Walking Upright, (Steele Roberts, 1999), written about his Te Tii experiences, won the 2000 Best First Book Award for Poetry. He followed this with An Explanation of Poetry to my Father, in which he uses hands-on language and humour to explain poetry to his builder father ("a man of few words").
He has also published a children's book, Uncle Glenn and Me (1999), illustrated by Kevin Wildman, and was a judge of the 2002 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards.
Glenn is now working on a radical collection of poems based on his experiences in medicine, Playing God.
To the girl who stood beside me at
The first second we met.
You were buying recipes.
The second second we turned,
The third second we held each other gently.
The fourth second we kissed.
In the fifth second we married.
The sixth second we built a house beside a lake
It was never tidy and the grass was up to our knees.
The seventh second we argued:
About toothpaste and poetry
The eighth second we grew fat and happy
In the ninth second we were old in the same garden
The tenth second we said goodbye.
Your hand slipped away from mine but
We passed again beside each other without turning
As though we had somehow only met at the checkout
First published in The Listener, 6 July 2002.
© Glenn Colquhoun.