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Colquhoun, Glenn
Writer's File

Glenn Colquhoun

Colquhoun, Glenn
In brief
Glenn Colquhoun is a doctor, poet and children's writer. His first poetry collection, The Art of Walking Upright, won Best First Book of Poetry at the 2000 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. In 2003 he won the Poetry Category and also became the first poet to be awarded the coveted Montana Readers' Choice Award. He has written several children’s books and has been the convener of the New Zealand Post Book Awards. In 2004, Colquhoun was the recipient of the Prize in Modern Letters.
  • Primary publisher
    Steele Roberts; Raupo Publishing


Colquhoun, Glenn (1964 –) is a doctor, poet and children's writer. His first collection of poetry, The Art of Walking Upright (1999), is about the Northland community of Te Tii in the Bay of Islands, a village the author has long had a close association with.

The Art of Walking Upright won the Jessie Mackay NZSA Best First Book of Poetry Award at the 2000 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

An Explanation of Poetry to My Father (2000) is Colquhoun's second collection of poetry.

His picture book, Uncle Glenn and Me (1999), illustrated by Kevin Wildman, tells the story of a boy and his uncle, a much-admired role model who ‘talks with his mouth full, prays for lollies and burps after drinking coke.’

Playing God was published in December 2002. The work received the Montana Award for Poetry and the Montana Readers' Choice Award at the 2003 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. He was the first poet to be awarded the Readers' Choice Award in a readers vote. In October 2006, Playing God went Platinum with Booksellers New Zealand, making its way onto their Premier New Zealand Bestsellers list. It is the only poetry collection in New Zealand to make it to Platinum, meaning more than 5,000 copies of the book have been sold.

Colquhoun was the convenor of the 2004 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Also in 2004, he received the country’s largest literary award, the Prize in Modern Letters, worth $60,000.

Jumping Ship (2004) is one of twelve titles in the Montana Estates essay series published by Four Winds Press. The press was established by Lloyd Jones to encourage and develop the essay genre in New Zealand. In his essay, Colquhoun describes his time living in the Te Tii community in the Bay of Islands. After falling out of print, Jumping Ship was republished by Steele Roberts in 2012.

Uncle Glenn and Me Too (Reed, 2004) is the sequel to Uncle Glenn and Me. Follow Uncle Glenn and his niece into their wonderful worlds of make-believe and reality, Glenn sometimes mixing it up, sometimes getting it all wrong! The delightful illustrations are by Kevin Wildman, who illustrated Uncle Glenn and Me.

Mr Short, Mr Thin, Mr Bald and Mr Dog (2005) was published by Steele Roberts.

How we fell: A Love Story (Steele Roberts, 2006) tells the story of Colquhoun's 10-year relationship with his former wife.

Amazing tales of Aotearoa (Raupo, 2008) is a retelling of several Māori myths, told by Colquhoun and illustrated by Ali Teo.

In North South (Steele Roberts, 2009), Colquhoun creates his own mythology by imagining the northern gods of his Celtic heritage engaging with the atua Māori of the south. The book is handwritten and illustrated by Nigel Brown.

In 2010 Colquhoun received a Fulbright scholarship to research medical storytelling programmes.

He participated in the Transit of Venus poetry exchange with fellow writers from Germany and New Zealand as part of the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair.

In 2012, Jumping Ship & Other Essays was published. Comprised of essays and poems which focus on the relationship between Pākehā and Māori medical practice, the book also includes pieces of oration.

Colquhoun contributed to the non-fiction book Being a Doctor: Understanding Medical Practice in June 2013. Exploring the principles of modern medicine, the work uses clinical tales to advance the holistic training of medical professionals.

In celebration of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games of 2014, Colquhoun represented New Zealand in the Commonwealth Poets United poetry project.

Late love - sometimes doctors need saving as much as their patients is due to be published as part of the BWB essay series in 2016.

In 2021, Letters to Young People was published by OldKing Press. A collection of 'letters' addressed to the young people he works with at the Horowhenua Health Service, the poems are tender and poignant. Reviewer Paula Green writes that "Colquhoun responds to the hopes, fears, doubts, and physical and emotional challenges presented to him. He also listens and speaks back to himself. He offers reassurance and comfort, and he offers his own frailties and strengths."

Also in 2021, Colquhoun's picture book The Small Girl Who Lives Next Door was published by OldKing Press. Reviewing it for Kete Books, Tainui Stephens writes: "A wonderful book for tamariki and all learners of the Māori language. A simple compelling story takes the reader on a journey through the ages. The voice of the people, our ancestry, and the land we spring from, is beautifully evoked through a tale of a not-so-chance encounter between a boy and a girl. The insights into the mana of our language, and the reasons we cherish it so, are lovingly offered."

Colquhoun currently lives at Waikawa Beach, Horowhenua, with his daughter Olive.

He continues to work with young people at the Horowhenua Youth Health Service and is a popular participant in the Writers in Schools programme. He performs his poetry regularly throughout the country.