BIO

Glenn Colquhoun is a poet and doctor. He was born in 1964 and grew up in South Auckland. He went to school at the South Auckland Seventh-day-adventist primary school and later the Auckland Adventist High School in Mangere. He went on to study theology for two years at Avondale College, the church’s tertiary institution in Australia and completed a BA in English and Education at Auckland University in 1987. He later attended Auckland Medical School, graduating in 1996. 

 

In 1994 he took a year off his medical training and spent that time in Te Tii, a small Māori community in Northland. This began a lifelong relationship with the community and its people. His first collection of poetry, The art of walking upright, was written about this community. He returned there later to work as a doctor in the Bay of Islands. 

 

Playing God, his third collection of poetry, detailed some of his experiences in medicine. It won the Reader’s Choice prize at the Montana Books Awards that year - the only time a collection of poetry has won this award in New Zealand. In 2006 it was awarded a Booksellers NZ Platinum Award for poetry. To date it has recorded sales of over 10,000 copies. He has also written three children's picture books and has published essays on medicine and race relations in New Zealand. 

 

In 2002 he toured Northland with Hone Tuwhare. Their experiences are recorded in the documentary film Hone Tuwhare – the return home. And in 2003 he was a member of the New Zealand Book Council’s Words on Wheels tour to the East Coast.

 

In 2004 he was awarded the Prize in Modern Letters. This was, at the time, the largest award made to an emerging writer anywhere in the world. In 2005 he moved from Northland to Waikawa Beach in Horowhenua where he began work as a GP at Hora Te Pai, the iwi medical practice for Te Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai. He was made a Distinguished Alumni of Auckland University that same year and in 2006 published his eighth book, How we fell, a collection of love poetry. He was also one of ten New Zealand writers published in Are angels ok? that same year. This was an anthology of science writing commemorating the international year of physics.

 

In 2008 he published his fourth children’s book, Amazing tales of Aotearoa, based on A.W Reed’s classic work, Wonder Tales of Maoriland. He also performed with Green Fire Islands, a production exploring the traditional music of Ireland and New Zealand. A poetry sequence written for the show, North:South was illustrated by the artist Nigel Brown and published in 2009. Later that year it was performed as a stage production. 

 

In 2010 Colquhoun won a Fulbright Scholarship to Harvard University to study medical humanities and in 2011 he helped to establish the Horowhenua Youth Health Service, where he continues to work in adolescent medicine. In 2012 he was part of the Transit of Venus poetry exchange at the Frankfurt Book Fair and in 2014 represented New Zealand on the Commonwealth Poets United poetry project which celebrated the Glasgow Commonwealth Games that year. Late love - sometimes doctors need saving as much as their patients was published by BWB in 2016.

 

Currently he lives at Waikawa Beach with his daughter, Olive. He continues to work with young people at the Horowhenua Youth Health Service and remains a popular visitor of high schools and primary schools in New Zealand. He performs his poetry regularly throughout the country.

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