Felix Dennis – publishing tycoon, poet and ‘pirate’ – is a marketing genius. His Did I Mention the Free Wine? tour hit town last week. It was a poetry reading like no other.
First, the wine got top billing. Second, the wine was good. There were eight varieties, none of them from a box. Sleek young men brought fresh bottles.
I’d almost forgotten about the poetry, when, out of the darkness, came a voice. Then the lights went up and there he was: a short, tousled bear of a man in a gold weskit.
Dennis is a showman. He delivers his poems in theatrical tones with a backdrop of film, animation and music. It’s a larger-than-life, multi-sensory multimedia experience. We sucked our wine and happily succumbed.
The poetry was as intoxicating as the liquor: passionate and political, poignant and pastoral, shot through with wry humour.
I was sold. I bought two books. Felix signed them with a flourish and asked me which poems I’d enjoyed the most. It was hard to choose.
I sensed he was particularly fond of The Bearded Dwarf, a ballad likening his publishing empire to a pirate ship. How many magnates have a ‘company poem’? Here he is with it:
If Felix and his crew drop anchor in a port near you I’d say, “Go! Partake! Enjoy the abundance!” (Age 18+)