Felix Dennis is the publisher of Maxim and other magazines, not someone famous for his poetry. However, in the book’s introduction, the author describes how he turned to poetry while in the hospital, starting out with only a pen and a stack of Post-It notes. He openly admits that “[t]he ‘spot of poetry’ has become a fully-fledged obsession” and the results of his new love were collected in a single volume. The book was a surprise best-seller in Britain, leading to its recent American release.
The CD is a fitting complement to the collection. It includes the author reading thirty-five of his poems. A few were recorded during a live performance of his work, and these are particularly impressive with the emotion that Dennis puts into the reading. That’s not to detract from the others, though, as his voice enhances the story and meaning behind each poem, even if they lack the fire of the live readings.
Dennis employs rhyming verse in his poetry and tends toward very literal meanings and interpretations. He also uses a good deal of humor, where appropriate, to the point that the poetry in A Glass Half Full could never be considered stuffy “literature". This is not to say that he doesn’t employ poetic language, creating images through simile, metaphor, allusions and the like. However, as a poet, he seems more interested in the story or the idea behind the verse than in cloaking it in flowery language. If there is an obscure inspiration behind a particular piece, he includes an explanation at the bottom of the page so that everyone can “get” it. He is a poet that anyone can enjoy, not just academics.
The sheer number of poems in the collection without any sort of apparent connection can be overwhelming, especially when poems don’t flow well from one to the next. For instance on two facing pages, the reader is presented with a poem about male genitalia and a poem in celebration of water as the foundation of life. Despite the lack of an overarching theme, there are several reoccurring ideas throughout the collection. Dennis reflects often on the passage of time and the death of close friends. He also celebrates the baby-boomer generation and coming of age during the hippie era. The idea that nature will persist long after humanity has run its course also appears several times.
As a whole, A Glass Half Full is an enjoyable collection. Whether you’re looking for a laugh, want to meet an interesting character, or would like to reflect on the weightier issues of life, there’s something for everyone in the included poems.