Joe Futrelle Promises Not to Become Poet Laureate, but Won't Give
Los Angeles (Associated Poets):
Joe Futrelle made headlines again last week, with the L.A. Times story
that he plans to stop writing newspoems after publishing two more this
year and three next year. "Then that's it. I'm done," Futrelle reportedly
told the Times. "Done writing newspoems."
Yeah. To their credit, a few of the news stories about the L.A. Times
report noted that Futrelle had made a similar statement to critic Sven
Birkerts in 1999, in a promotional interview for "Terse Phrase Vies
for Attention." "I think I'm about done," Futrelle allegedly said then.
Hm. Anyone who has read Futrelle's book How I Spell Tschneertz,
or has followed his evolution as a writer, knows that, as much as any
author alive, Futrelle lives to write--that for him writing is as natural,
and as sacred, as writing. But to get a second opinion, we got in touch
with Dirk Stratton, secretary of Spineless Books, Futrelle's current
The story, Stratton told us, "is nonsense. Every three years or so,
Joe says something to someone in an interview which gets turned into
'Joe Futrelle threatens to never write again!' It's just a tic, I think.
You know, what Joe said to me, without my inquiring about it, because
I'm inured to it, having heard it many times, was: 'I did not tell that
woman that I'm not going to write ever again!' So it's a question of
interpretation or context."
Exactly what Futrelle said to the Times may remain in doubt, but that
Futrelle will write, and publish, well beyond 2003 should remain a question
for no one. On the other hand, it's likely that Futrelle meant it when
he said, "I don't want to end up like Billy Collins. That's my nightmare."
Of course, if there ever was an author whose passion and genius would
allow him to write newspoetry without damaging his credibility as Poet
Laureate, it's Joe Futrelle.