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This review is taken from PN Review 228, Volume 42 Number 4, March - April 2016.

Cover of Some Women  Happen<i>Stance</i>
James Sutherland-SmithFeminine Scripture David Kinloch, Some Women HappenStance

Reading David Kinloch is akin to enjoying a Roman bathhouse; first the frigidarium of formidable erudition, then the delight of the tepidarium, his mastery of line and sentence, followed by the caldarium, the hot room of imagery, pun and feeling. We can return to the tepidarium for a massage with fragrant oils of form and language and perhaps there is also a pretty girl or handsome boy to provide further delights. In Some Women he continues to write groups of poems closely related in subject matter, following his sumptuously ekphrastic Finger of a Frenchman (Carcanet, 2011).

In this HappenStance pamphlet he has written a group of poems in the voices of women from the Bible divided into two sections corresponding to the Old Testament and the New Testament. He must have been extremely tempted to venture into the Apocrypha and write a poem in the voice of the Susannah harassed by those two dirty old elders. The poems are risky. Firstly, female personae created by a gay male poet might be regarded with extreme suspicion by those feminist poets who have ring-fenced feminine identity against male intrusion. Secondly, the immense popularity of Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife might cast shadow on poems which adopt a similar strategy in giving a voice to the silent women in canonical male literature and the Bible, that exemplary product of patriarchal culture.

However, Kinloch has the verbal gifts, the range of register and devices and sheer cheek to write poems which are original, moving and sexy. Kinloch begins ...

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