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Colquhoun, Glenn


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.


Place of residence: Waikawa Beach, New Zealand
Primary publisher: Roger Steele, Steele Roberts, Raupo Publishing
Rights enquiries: Roger Steele at Steele Roberts, Raupo Publishing
Publicity enquiries: As above


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 drink 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 Maori 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 Maori 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 Pakeha and Maori 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.

Last updated May 2016.

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writers in schools information

Colquhoun is able to visit students of any age and is prepared to travel outside his region. He is happy to talk to groups between 20-30 in size, about being a poet and picture book writer. He is available for workshops by prior arrangement.

KAPAI: Kids' Authors Pictures and Information

Where do you live?
I live in a small village by the sea called Waikawa Beach, it is on the Kapiti Coast, just south of Levin.

What books to you read?
All sorts really but especially poetry books and books of non-fiction, like history and biography. I like reading about why things happen to people.

Who is your favourite author?
I have lots of favourite authors but I especially like Hone Tuwhare and Dr. Seuss.

How do you think up your ideas?
Usually the idea leads to another like a game of Scrabble (I hate Scrabble!). I start working on an idea and then find something else to write about while I’m working on that. Sometimes I think I’ll never finish anything.

What is the best thing about being an author?
I get to walk down the road and take notice of everything – because I might get to use it in a poem or a story one day. Nothing seems ordinary anymore.

Questions from Primary School students

What sort of pets do you have?
I don’t have any pets! My daughter wants a pig so we can throw out old food – I say give it to me and I’ll eat it.

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite food?

Ice cream and toast.

What is your favourite game?

What is the most fun thing about being an author?
I get to play with my imagination so when I walk down the street I think it might be an old man’s tongue or a piece of liquorice or a snake lying awake in the jungle!

How do you make books?
Like a sandwich — take 2 covers and put something in the middle!

Where do you go for your holidays?
I go home. I live by the sea and its like being on holiday all the time! That’s why I live there.

What was the naughtiest thing you ever did at school?
I cheated! I copied a platypus out of a book while the teacher wasn’t looking, because I forgot what they look like. It was a test – so don’t tell anyone!

Questions from Secondary School students

How did you get started?
I got an empty exercise book and told myself I would write a poem a week no matter what. I filled up 5 exercise books before I got anything published!

Who inspired you when you were getting started?
Hone Tuwhare, J.K. Baxter as writers, but mainly the people around me who I thought had neat stories to tell.

What advice would you give an aspiring young writer?
Find an idea you believe in and just write. Read the sort of stuff you want to write, but in the end you have to put in the hard yards. If you want to write poems — go and write 100 of them and then you’ll have an idea of where you are heading.

Is it difficult to make a living as a writer in New Zealand?
It's not easy! As a poet you would make a living from writing outside of poetry! Writing things like reviews or freelance articles or working at a university. I work as a doctor which makes it a bit easier I think!

What were you like as a teenager?
You better ask my mum. Actually I feel like I’m still a bit of a teenager at times. The secret to getting older is that it doesn’t always feel like you are!

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
I’m learning to cook. It’s my new hobby, so if you know of any good recipes …

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Media links and clips

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Phone 0064 4 801 5546
Level 4, Stephenson & Turner House, 156 Victoria St, Te Aro
Wellington 6011, New Zealand