Glenn Colquhoun



"There were times when I thought a poem was something hewn out of stone.

That it was what remained when what was unnecessary had fallen away.

Writing was a kind of chipping away then.

Other days it felt like flicking paint at shivers. Or flinging mud.

Grabbing a fistful of dirt and throwing it at the invisible to reveal a ghost walking past.

I thought writing them would mean I’d never have an end."

My Latest Book Releases

Ngā Wāhine E Toru Three Women book

Ngā Wāhine E Toru Three Women

“Māori oral poetry is a living tradition that is constantly added to. It contains remarkable stories. It uses metaphors drawn from our own land, sea and sky. It is sung to the tunes of the wind and of water and of birds. Working within its traditions I have come to see that at the heart of all poetry, written or spoken, is a kind of cry. And if a poem cries well, then its meaning is always simply in the nature of that cry first and foremost. Language, understanding, cognition, are always second to this.

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 Myths and Legends of the Ancient Pākehā Book

Myths and Legends of the Ancient Pākehā

“It was by looking at Māori oral poetry more closely that I came to ask what it is that a Pākehā oral poem might sound like. And whether it is capable of holding the same power. Might a sea- shanty meet the energy of a haka? Can a hymn stand up to a mōteatea? To find out I went back to the ways that spoken English poetry first arrived in New Zealand: via sea-shanty and hymn, lullaby and nursery rhyme, working song, clapping song and skipping song. I also went back to what has often been the concern of oral poems, our histories.”

Myths and Legends of the Ancient Pākehā Book
Holding the ACEs adverse childhood events in New Zealand book

Holding the ACEs: Adverse childhood events in New Zealand 

”Young people tell me their stories. Around the corner there’s a movie theatre and a couple of cafes. Two supermarkets. An adventure park. A commerce of dairies. And somewhere in all of that something awful is going on.”

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North South book cover

The Small Girl Who Lives Next Door

In this book Glenn Colquhoun and Rautini O’Brien tell the story of a young Pākehā boy learning Te Reo Māori. The journey takes him from the small girl who lives next door, through the landscape surrounding his town and brings him back home to a street that will never quite seem the same again. 

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Letters to Young People

In this collection of poetry Glenn Colquhoun writes to the young people he works with at the Horowhenua Health Service. Tender and poignant, wondering and wry, here his words become small scissors, knives, bandages and balms. Gathered together they represent an inventory of one doctor's consultations taken home, responses to those moments he might have woken in the night and wished he had said things better.

An explanation of Poetry to my father book cover

An explanation of poetry to my father


In An explanation of poetry to my father Glenn Colquhoun tells his builder father why he writes poetry. In this collection Glenn uses hand’s on language and humour to explain poetry to anyone not yet captivated with the magic of words.






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Jumping Ship and other essays book cover

Jumping ship & other essays


Jumping Ship was first published by Four Winds Press in the Montana Estates Essay Series edited by Lloyd Jones. It was widely praised, but has been out of print for some time.


Now it is reprinted here, along with other thoughtful and often provocative essays, speeches and poems on race relations, medicine, history, love and related themes.

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Playing God book cover

Playing God


Glenn's third collection of poetry, this work received the Montana Award for Poetry and the Montana Readers' Choice Award at the 2003 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.


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 (to date more than 10,000 copies have sold!). 



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North South book cover

North South


In this collaboration with artist Nigel Brown, Glenn imagines the northern gods of his Celtic heritage engaging with the atua Maori of the south, and creates a new mythology for those in this country who "have in their arms both ways".

Nigel Brown has handwritten and illustrated Glenn's words to bring to like the story of Tama, a child of the gods who is linked both to Europe and to the landscape of Aotearoa. 


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