From Scots dialect to Frank O’Hara and the New York School, from the candidly personal to unusual dramatic monologues, David Kinloch’s poetry is stylistically, thematically and emotionally wide-ranging. Kinloch first emerged, alongside Robert Crawford and other now established names, as part of a group of young Scottish poets in the 1980s. He later became associated with the Informationists, a movement so-called for a shared fascination in the aesthetic possibilities of information, fusing traditional lyric and experimental poetic tendencies to curious effect.
But Kinloch is a poet who has also been careful to tread his own, suitably meandering path. His poetry is notable for its international outlook, including an ongoing fascination with the French language and culture, and emotive explorations of what it has meant – and continues to mean – to be a gay man in society. ‘Dustie-fute’ for example, the opening piece in Kinloch’s Archive recording, is a prose-poem that explores the eponymous phrase for a wayfarer, finding its etymology planted in French roots. The poem is part of a sequence, in Kinloch’s own description, ‘during the course of which the Scots word turns into a gay man who has died from AIDS’. ‘These words are as foreign as the city they have parachuted into’, warns the poem’s speaker, ‘dead words slipping on the sill of a living metropolis’.
Kinloch was born in Glasgow in 1959, and studied English and French at the city’s university before completing postgraduate work at Balliol College, Oxford. He has spent many years as a teacher of French in various university settings, and since 2003, he has taught Poetry and Creative Writing at the University of Strathclyde. The poems in this Archive recording showcase the breadth of his fascinations and concerns – drawing from collections that variously centre on the five centuries of connection between French and Scottish artistic culture, on elegy and father figures, and even on a kind of Scottish Orpheus. A particular highlight is a variously amused, outraged and entertaining sequence of poems, Some Women, that gives voice to the often-silenced women of the Bible: ‘Now look here’, state the Hebrew women to St Paul: ‘Adam could have said no thanks or apples / disagree with me. He didn’t. He had a bite / as well.’
Witty but touching, warm yet with an acerbic edge, these poems exemplify the best of Kinloch’s style, in an Archive recording accompanied by numerous illuminating introductions from the poet himself. All are delivered in measured but entertaining tones, confirming Edwin Morgan’s assessment of Kinloch’s ability to ‘unroll a convincing set of unexpected scenarios’.
David Kinloch’s recording was made on 15th September 2016 at The Soundhouse, London. It was produced by Richard Carrington.