Felix Dennis made his fortune in the magazine business, but the British entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist is now determined to make a more permanent mark on the world, quite literally.
Dennis plans to carve one of his poems into a thirty-ton boulder, and then drop it into a forest via cargo helicopter. Just how big is a thirty-ton boulder? As big as this one, which fell into someone's house in March of last year. And ten tons bigger than this one, which landed on someone's car eight months ago. All of which raises the question, has Dennis tried this before?
Dennis has, admittedly, engaged in destructive behavior, though it was mainly of the self-destructive variety. In his book How to Get Rich, he claims to have spent over a hundred million dollars on drugs and women in his wilder days. And, as one of the publishers of the infamous underground magazine Oz in the '60s, he was famously charged with "Conspiracy to Deprave and Corrupt the Morals of the Young of the Realm." He was acquitted (and "the Young of the Realm" made out ok).
But Dennis has mellowed a bit of late. In 2001, he discovered a serious passion for trees, and has since planted hundreds of thousands of saplings in conjunction with The Heart of England Forest Project. He has also willed a remarkable 80% of his fortune to the cause (he once explained that trees keep him from being "a deeply nasty human being"). That same year, Dennis began writing poetry. And as with most things he touches, he's been wildly successful at it. He has now published six best-selling collections and is one of the most popular poets in the UK.
That isn't to say that Dennis has mellowed completely. He's sharp-witted and maintains a bit of an edge. When a New York Times interviewer asked him about the extravagance of his boulder gesture, Dennis -- who is purportedly worth almost a billion dollars -- simply replied, "I am not a poor man." And he once advised an audience of Columbia journalism students, "My rule is: if it flies, floats or fornicates, rent it. It's cheaper in the long run." Now if it can do all three...
Anyway, in a dramatic act that combines his two passions, Dennis' boulder poem will soon be dropped into a forest that he himself planted near his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon (take that, Shakespeare!). The poem is titled "Mirabile Dictu," which translates roughly to "wonderful to tell." And despite the extravagance of its presentation, the poem (like Dennis himself) is pretty irresistible. You can read a working draft of it on his website.
And you can get to know Dennis better in a recent Q&A by Hannah Gal for The Huffington Post UK.