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Finger of a Frenchman

David Kinloch

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Categories: Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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(Pub. Aug 2011)
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  •                             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?
    An eagle?
                  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.


    small pleasures
    Five Portraits of Mary
        Mary Stuart’s Dream    13
        La Monnaie du Moulin    14
        A Coin    16
        Fotheringay, 1587    17
        Family    18
    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
    Disruption    37
    Lob    39
    In the rue Annette    42
    A Backward Glance    43
    Between the Lines    46
    Mahlstick    48
    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
    Thyrsus    66
    5/cinq    68
    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
    Passover    97
    Three Gaelic Versions
        On the Beach at Bosta    98
        poem/song/destiny    99
        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

    Notes    110

    DAVID KINLOCH is from Glasgow where he grew up and was educated. He is the author of six collections of poetry, most published by Carcanet Press, the latest being In Search of Dustie-Fute (2017) which was shortlisted for the Saltire Prize. He has degrees in French and English from the Universities ... read more
    Awards won by David Kinloch Winner, 2022 Cholmondeley Award (Society of Authors) 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 'The multi-layered richness of the poems, varied in form and subject as they are, drew me in, even as they encouraged and required me to educate myself on Scottish terms and history.'
    Jeff Gundy, Poetry Salzburg
    'As others have noted, this is a poet who can be tender, playful, sarcastic... This is a poet who lives in art and the world and moves between difficult realms as easily as the pedlar, troubadour, 'dustie-fute' who is the presiding spirit of his work.'
    Kathleen McPhilemy, The High Window
      'Greengown: New and Selected Poems is a landmark book for David Kinloch. He was probably the first gay poet in the UK to address the AIDS crisis as it was happening, with a style that alternated crystal-clear lyric poems with rich prose poetry. His body of work is recognised for its humour, historic resonance and humanity.'
    Richard Price, The Poetry Society
    'His work exemplifies a particularly queer style. I mean that in every sense. It is unflinching in talking about gay life and experience, but it is also askance, unsettling, always either swerving or tripping the reader. It is, as well, quair, as in the old Scots for a book. It is a bookish book. If anyone deserves to be considered the heir to Edwin Morgan, I would suggest it be Kinloch.'
    Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman
     'David Kinloch is one of the most innovative poets ever to come out of Scotland... his readers must be prepared to take a long voyage through language, imagination and space.'
    Douglas Messerli, Hyperallergic
     'Skill and vitality make this handsome publication a true and tender elegy for pleasures shared and love recalled.'
    Herald Scotland
    '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.'
    Edwin Morgan
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