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My God

My God: Glenn Colquhoun

Series 3, Episode 10 - Sunday October 12, 2008

Glenn Colquhoun

Poetry has given award winning writer Glenn Colquhoun a unique voice enabling him to speak with disarming clarity about landscape, the hearts of people, his work as a doctor, and his passion for the spirit.

This week on My God, Glenn talks to presenter Chris Nichol about his first furtive steps towards becoming a poet, the accessibility of his chosen art form and how growing up in the Seventh Day Adventist Church continues to colour his work. He also discusses what he describes as the 'cultural coastline;' that boundary where Maori and Pakeha meet and how living on this coastline has caused him to examine his own identity. In a thought provoking interview, Glenn also talks about belonging, community, and the discovery of God within the people he interacts with every day.

Glenn and his three siblings grew up in South Auckland. His family were generational members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and had a "quiet, solid faith." Glenn attended Adventist schools and for the first 25 years of his life only knew a handful of people outside of the Church. As a child and young man he had a deep faith and was good with words which led him to train as minister in an Australian Adventist theological college. However, despite his passion for his faith he did not fit in and was asked to go back home and reconsider his calling. 

He returned to New Zealand with his fiancé, whom he had met at the college, and took up medicine. Over the next several years he began to question some of the church's teachings and found he was not satisfied with the answers he was given. As a natural doubter he found he did not fit in the Church and began the painful process of letting go of the beliefs he had tried so hard to hold on to.

While he moved away from the Seventh Day Adventist Church he remained passionate about the nature of our spirituality. Today, he tells Chris the three big part of this life - his poetry, his five-year-old daughter and his work as a doctor - has become his new "trinity".

In his late 20s Glenn began writing poetry and went on to pen award winning collections including Playing God and The Art of Walking Upright. His works also include An Explanation of Poetry for My Father, and the picture book, Uncle Glenn and Me.

Glenn also discusses the redemptive experience of being broken, the release that comes with doubt and failure, his hunt for the spiritual experience and finding that experience through connection with others.