Playing god: An hour with Norman Doidge and Glenn Colquhoun

It is now official! I am a poetry convert, First Karlo Mila, and now Glenn Colquhoun. Both have moved me to tears and made me laugh – all in one hour. Wonderful.

Glenn Colquhoun was definitely the hero of this session for me – partly because he was the only one I could really hear. James Norcliffe was the chair, and alongside Norman Doidge had such a quiet tone of voice that I struggled to keep listening to what they were saying. Glenn however, had a great big New Zealand voice that made me sit up and pay attention.

Seeing as Norman Doidge has got another hour in the sun tomorrow from 3-4, I think I will concentrate mainly on Glenn Colquhoun. Also Norman Doidge didn’t want to talk about his poetry. Considering the the session was listed as “two doctor/poets talk about the solace and perspective that writing brings to their work,” I found this rather strange and disconcerting. He was happy however to talk about his dislike of metaphors – for quite a while actually.

Glenn Colquhoun however was delightfully happy to talk about poetry. He described it as a “love story” , and that poetry was his childhood sweetheart that he didn’t think he was worthy of. This love affair has devoloped and ebbed and flowed over the years, but is still going strong. He talked about poetry and science being similar, that there is the same sense of joy in science and a feeling of standing on the edge that you get when writing a poem.

He has no problem with being both a doctor and and poet, and that both keep him grounded. His life as a doctor obviously gives him plenty of topics to write about, but there is a very strong sense that he finds the life he leads as a doctor to be a great privilege and has a huge respect for this patients.

He read two of his poems and they were funny, but also very very true. I loved the one about the woman who asked him, if she was taking pills for her heart, and pills for her blood, how did they know where to go? He gives her a very detailed scientific explanation which she calls “bullshit”, tries another tack which gets a similar treatment, and in the end just says “it’s magic” . The response? Why didn’t you say this is the first place!

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