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Finger of a Frenchman
ISBN: 978 1 847770 74 5
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: April 2011
216 x 135 x 5 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (EPUB), eBook (Kindle)
Are they brothers?
Friends? Beneath an arch a man in black
offers an apple, stalk down, to one in red.
Black doublet smiles at us.
Red doublet smiles at him.
Look hard and you will see behind their backs
a bird with outstretched wings. A swan?
from ‘To a Gentleman of the King’s Bedchamber’
Finger of a Frenchman explores looking, and writing about looking: looking at surfaces and beyond them, at what is depicted and what is hidden in shadow, at how a transient chemistry of light may be fixed in colour and words.
Kinloch’s poems are portraits of artists and reflections on art through five centuries of the artistic bond between Scotland and France. John Acheson, Master of the Scottish Mint, takes Mary, Queen of Scots’ portrait for the Scottish coinage, Esther Inglis paints the first self-portrait by a Scottish artist; Jean-Jacques Rousseau ticks off his portrait painter, Allan Ramsay, and Eugene Delacroix offers David Wilkie a brace of partridge for tea in Kensington. The Glasgow Boys, the Scottish Colourists and Charles Rennie Mackintosh bring the gallery into the twentieth century, where Kinloch considers the hybrid art of figures such as Ian Hamilton Finlay, Alison Watt and Douglas Gordon in analytical prose-poems.
In the book’s second part, a mini-epic of a seventeenth-century priest’s Grand Tour offers a reflection on the nature of Collection itself, whether of paintings or poems, the composing of fragments into a whole.
Cover painting: Crispin van den Broeck (1524-c. 1590), Two Young Men (detail). Copyright © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Five Portraits of Mary
Mary Stuart’s Dream 13
La Monnaie du Moulin 14
A Coin 16
Fotheringay, 1587 17
Resisting Hell 19
To a Gentleman of the King’s Bedchamber 21
Rousseau on Ramsay 24
Young Blade 25
Sir David Wilkie Administering Tea in Kensington 27
1 The Company 30
2 The Art 31
In the rue Annette 42
A Backward Glance 43
Between the Lines 46
The Pink House, Cassis 49
The Place de L’Institut 50
Eileen in a White Chair 52
Helping with an Enquiry 53
Small Pleasures 55
Only for One 62
Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Barbie Doll 69
finger of a frenchman
Finger of a Frenchman 73
After Words after Art 85
a cabinet of curiosities
Three Gaelic Versions
On the Beach at Bosta 98
The Crib 100
The Hangingshaw 101
Reading at the Kibble Palace, Glasgow 102
Second Poem of the Hip Bone 103
The Mocking Fairy 105
The Organ Bath 107
Sailing to Torcello 108
Edwin Morgan is eating an orange 109
Awards won by David Kinloch Short-listed, 2017 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award (In Search of Dustie-Fute) Commended, 2011 The Scotsman's Book of the Year (Finger of a Frenchman) Winner, 2004 Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Award
Praise for David Kinloch 'Skill and vitality make this handsome publication a true and tender elegy for pleasures shared and love recalled.'
'A sparkling collection: full of sensuous richness and linguistic inventiveness. As the punning title of the book might suggest, there is much about fathers and sons, including the moving simplicity of a walk with a dead father 'and then/I let him go,/but this moment/which is far the hardest pain/remains'. But Kinloch unrolls a convincing set of unexpected scenarios: outspoken excerpts from Roger Casement's diaries intercut with the horrors of the Belgian oppression in Africa; tightly drawn translations of Celan into Scots; and a most impressive long poem, 'Baines His Dissection', where a medical man is seen embalming the body of his friend and lover, against the background of a brilliantly evoked Middle East of the seventeenth century.'
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