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A Glass Half Full: Spoken-Word CD Included    by Felix Dennis order for
Glass Half Full
by Felix Dennis
Order:  USA  Can
Miramax, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

What first appealed to me about this book of verse was a front-cover quote from Tom Wolfe, who calls the author 'A 21st century Kipling' (I'm a long-term Kipling fan, despite his current lack of popularity with the politically correct crowd). After dipping quickly into the contents, I thought Wolfe was wrong. Reading the entire book made me understand the comparison better. The style is not particularly similar (aside from 'A Hymn of Hate' which reminded me of some of Kipling's 'Tommy' verses, and 'Because' which is reminiscent of 'If') but the sincerity, an emotional connection with the reader, and the 'glass half full' approach to life all reminded me of Rudyard Kipling.

The CD that comes with the book is a big bonus - in it the author's expressive reading varies from soft and sensitive to loud and raucous, to suit the range of his poems. Topics range from Hitler's death scene and 'Dead White Males' to a variety of 60s memories such as 'The Summer of Love' (with a tone both fond and scathing), commentaries on modern society (e.g. 'Jack and Jill' on lawsuits and 'Why Do They Do It?' on lying politicians), and touching tributes to friends who have died. Some, like 'Classic Clichés' and 'Travel Advisory', are just for fun, but more are serious and timely. 'Falling, falling' (on 9/11) is poignant and 'Hunting Monsters' is wise. And while the poems are thoughtful, they are also accessible, communicating clearly.

It's hard to choose a favorite but some spoke to me more strongly than others. Having grown up in Northern Ireland, I found truth in 'The Troubles'. I particularly enjoyed the sympathy for older women in poems like 'Grand-ma' ('save your pity, dearie - / Been there - done that. Oh Yes!') And I loved the compassion of 'A Child of Adam and Eve' ... 'There are no 'immigrant children' / Cluttering up the land; / There is only a tyke on a beat-up bike, / Beginning to understand.' Felix Dennis gives us poetry with roots in the 60s and a 21st century relevance. I could rave on, but I won't. Get your own copy and settle down with a glass of vino - you have hours of enjoyment ahead.

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