E-Tangata published an extract from Glenn’s new book. For the full extract go here.
In this extract from his new book Late Love: Sometimes Doctors Need Saving as Much as Their Patients, he writes about how his poetry has leaked into his medicine, and changed the way he practises.
The High Chaparral
For most of my career medicine has not been so friendly. I have struggled with doubt. I have always felt that at any point I might do the wrong thing. For a long time this meant that consultations were noisy with my own thoughts. Life was lived in two parts. In one I would go to work and be unsure and struggle with the waiting room and paper trails and fires popping up. In the other I would imagine. I would dream that I could fly. I would soar up over the world like a young seagull and look down and be amazed. Moments would open up like a ranch slider. Inside I found they were timeless. Poetry was good and medicine was bad. I joked that poetry was the first girl I ever loved, the one I always wanted but never felt confident enough to ask out, and that medicine was the girl I got pregnant behind the bike shed and thought I had to make an honest woman of.
A few years ago I began to compile a book based on the stories of a group of patients I saw over the course of one day in general practice. For a year I visited as many of them as I could and asked them about their lives leading up to that consultation. I saw them in their homes and among those things they cared about, then afterwards flew up into the sky like a seagull with an old piece of string and looked down. When I came to write about them I saw them with wet eyes — the sort of love that poetry demands of those who write it.
Copyright © 2016 Glenn Colquhoun
This is an extract from Glenn Colquhoun’s book Late Love: Sometimes Doctors Need Saving as Much as Their Patients, published by Bridget Williams Books.