Saturday 28 June 2014

Felix Dennis, Poet [?]

So, farewell then Felix Dennis.  What a man.  I find that you chaps a decade (or, ahem, more) younger than me generally have no conception how significant Oz and the rest of the soi-disant underground press were to my generation of London youth (IT was my favourite, and Frendz was good too): and how few have seen the notorious Schoolkids' issue.  You all know about the Beatles and the prog rock giants, and lots of films of the era; but Oz clearly hasn't registered.  So I suppose it was just of its time.

Anyway, in its time it was Big, and Dennis was central to it.  You've probably seen the obits.  As with several people who pretend to be hippies, he was a heavy-duty capitalist au fond, and went on to make serious shedloads of the filthy lucre.  In later life, despite limp protestations to the contrary, he became a bit fixated on his legacy in the form of his superb business deals, his forestry (sic) and - his poetry.

Opinions on this latter are mixed.  Some are quite sniffy about it, though he fills pages of his websites with approving sleb soundbites.  I suppose that when a wealthy man gives public poetry readings with free wine, it makes one think he suspects that no-one would otherwise turn up.

So - is he a real poet ?  I reckon so, in the same way that Karl Jenkins is a real classical composer.  Derivative, yes, but plenty of imagination; and original - and confident - enough.  Not quite as good as Clives James for my money (to name another poet about whom some are not at all complimentary). Then again, Clive James actually charges real money whereas Dennis puts his up for all to see.

If death knows no dominion,
   The dead wield iron claws:
Ghost limbs aligned to pinion,
   To bend us to their cause.

By hoary yews and birches
   We worship gods they chose;
We sweep their empty churches,
   We smite their ancient foes.

If death knows no dimension,
   The dead are with us still;
By custom — and convention,
   They wed us to their will.

Their art a thing of beauty,
   The bait by which we’re led;
Little we bring but duty
   To serve the ghastly dead.

What do you think?



James S said...

The free wine was a definite opportunity to get people to listen to his poetry, but if he could afford it, and it encouraged people to listen to pretty full stop, then why not. The wine was pretty good too by all accounts :)

We live a few miles from his estate near Stratford. I don't know him at all but he has done a fantastic amount locally preserving the environment, and community.

I'm not even sure there is a dichotomy in his hippyism. He was keen to prove himself having had his intelligence publically impugned at the Oz trial, and as a result of his labours made a vast fortune, which he put towards an old-fashioned hedonistic lifestyle, and to dontate to what he saw as good causes. I believe the majority of his estate has been left to grow and cultivate the forest, which surely is no bad thing.

RIP Felix Dennis.

dearieme said...

The poetry is about seventeen year-old level: but by a gifted seventeen year-old.

Electro-Kevin said...

I saw his Did I Mention The Free Wine ? on tour last year.

It was fabulous. Poetry for the masses, no doubt. But then I think my Mondeo is a fantastic car (which it undoubtedly is.)

As I left I shouted to him (he was surrounded by autograph hunters) "Thank you, Mr Dennis !" and he responded "You're MOST welcome !" in his Santa Claus voice.

I liked him very much though I know I oughtn't because he was a corrupting influence on our society.

RIP Felix Dennis. And thanks for the wine and cheese.

Scan said...

I love Clive James's writing and narration but when it comes to poetry I still can't help thinking free verse just isn't cricket.

hovis said...

A good combative man who was talented at what he did, (magazines) and chose poetry to express himself -was he really anyworse because he has made money before? I liked his grizzled irksome style - his "how to get rich" is really an auto biography in amusing style.

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