Alyssia Cooke's Reviews > Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf by Felix Dennis
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Jul 14, 2011

it was amazing

Originally I bought this book on a complete spur of the moment decision, if anything I liked the picture of the wolf on the front and I was looking for some new poetry to read. What was originally just an off the cuff, snap shot decision ended up being a scarily good buy. Which is very rare for me! Felix Dennis has become one of my favourite poets for his wit and his well as his common sense approach towards today's world.

===Boring Stuff===
Title: Lone Wolf
Author: Felix Dennis
Publisher: Hutchinson (7 Oct 2004)
ISBN-13: 978-0091800352
Price: Amazon: from £0.62 at time of writing RRP: £8.99

===Felix Dennis===
Felix Dennis is one of Britain's best known entrepreneurs, after leaving Harrow College of Art, Dennis wasted a great deal of his youth playing in R&B bands. In 1971he was imprisoned by the British government as a co-editor of OZ magazine at the culmination of the longest conspiracy trial in English history. Dennis recorded a single with John Lennon to raise money for a legal defence fund. Following his acquittal by the High Court of Appeal, Dennis went on to found his own magazine publishing company in 1973.

Following a life-threatening illness, Dennis's first collection of poetry, A Glass Half Full, was published in November 2002 by Hutchinson in the UK. It has since become one of the biggest selling books of original verse in England for years. Dennis's poetry has been featured in the national press, on many radio interviews and has been the subject of two major television documentaries. Spoken word and Braille editions of A Glass Half Full have been produced by organisations for the blind.

The structure of the book is almost as if it has no structure, there are long(ish) serious poems sharing space with short witty ones - usually mocking something! It's not organised in any way that I can tell - either by date, place, alphabetical order or the meaning. And again this actually adds to the book, because it's always something different next, you never end up feeling like you are reading exactly the same stuff that you read a couple of minutes ago. It does make it difficult to flick through the book to find the particular poem that you want, but this might just be because I hate using index's etc, they just annoy me! But the almost random mix of short and long, sweet and funny, biting and serious works very well, because in putting the poems in this almost random order he makes you run the whole gauntlet of emotions.

===His Poetry===
His poetry is probably one of the best I have read in a long time (and that's saying something considering how much poetry I read!). Although in honesty I wasn't to keen on his first book, mainly because I found most of it to be too pretentious. But the poetry that he uses in this book is full of wit, and is very clever. He uses rhyming verse, and often uses older forms of poetry like sonnets - I think this is the real reason why I loved this so much, I like my poetry to actually be poetry, not the kind of rubbish that many 'modern poets' write. He switches from sarcastic as sin, to very sweet poems in the book, mixing his rather biting wit with some jaw dropping emotional moments, sometimes in the same poem.

One of the things I did love about his poetry is the fact that even he himself is not spared from his own mockery:
'I've spent my life...
Knowing it's a tragedy, praying it's a joke,
Concocting resolutions, (most of which I broke),
Mocking all the camouflage while adding to the smoke.'

Often his poems are deeply personal, there are several about his family and himself which add a lovely note to the book, as even hardened cynics like me get fed up after a while. Poems like 'Spitting out the pips', 'Unsung heroes', and 'Lisa' are exceptional poems by any standard, but such a true to life and personal telling in what could be classed as a book of cynicism and wit really allows Felix Dennis to bring his talents to the fore. But he can actually be very sweet (yes, I'm a romantic as well as a cynic!). But equally, he doesn't spare the parts of our world and politics that annoy him from his mockery, this often takes the form of taking the Mickey out of political correctness (which he hates, and for that alone I love him!).

Another thing about his writing is that the language he uses is clever and witty, whilst easily bringing his message out in a way that could not be considered wither patronising or pretentious. But often or not it is one or two lines in a single poem that really slam home, and really make an impression on the reader. For example when talking of parenthood and the issues that come about with it, he comes out with a very striking description of what love is too often worth:
'A clotted stream of guilt that runs
With chromosomes to pull it -
Our wedding rings the smoking guns
Our juveniles the bullets?'

Or equally when talking about war:
'And in a land where mothers vote,
The price might rise too high.'

But the main thing is that in this book of poetry Felix Dennis shows himself a master of all sorts of different styles of poetry. He can write the witty four liners as well as he can write a far more serious and lengthy poem, he can do both the simple and the complex, and whichever he chooses to do at any point he does it with style.

If you buy the book new (I'm not sure if this applies at Amazon) you get a free spoken CD with the book, which is comprised of Felix Dennis reading out selected pieces of his poetry. I have to admit I have never found him as good a reader as writer, as he seems to miss the intonations and inflections that I try to put in when reading aloud. He is just not a good reader...and actually tends to ruin his own poems which are exceptional without him reading them.

===My opinion===
I really enjoyed this book, in this sort of anthology of poems there will always be some that you love and some you dislike, but because each single poem is only a small part of the book it is easy to skip those. And I found when coming back to the book, I would read some of the ones which I had skipped earlier that I was pleasantly surprised. This is a book that I have read time and time again, both to myself and to others (much to my boyfriends distaste as he hates poetry!). I know that I can always did into it and find something that will appeal to me in whatever mood I am in at the time.

This really is a book of poetry that anyone with even the smallest interest in poetry should enjoy...and anyone who is just that little bit cynical will enjoy it all the more.

A very enjoyable book which is well worth buying, you are sure to find a lot you like in it. If you want to have a taster of the sorts of poems that he writes then you could visit which is a selection of some of the poems from the book, you can also hear Felix Dennis read them if you so wish, but do be warned of his inability to read aloud!

I will leave you with his definition of diplomacy:
'Two blind men stand within a darkened room,
Unmanned, unarmed, fear as thick as night;
Each certain that the other seeks his doom,
Each boasting of his knife and new found sight.'

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