3 March 2002

Joe Futrelle Promises Not to Become Poet Laureate, but Won't Give Up Writing

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 house.

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.

Newspoetry at Spineless Books