Moveable Type: Futurepoem Books
September 4, 2019
An Interview with Dan Machlin, Founder & Executive Editor
Futurepoem has been publishing innovative poetry and prose from emerging and underrepresented writers since 2002. Can you tell us a bit more about the mission and values of Futurepoem?
We’ve always aspired to be a space that welcomes writers taking risks and exploring uncharted territory. Sometimes this involves publishing outstanding first books. Other times we’ve championed books by writers who decide to try something truly different. I think the fact that we only publish two to three books per year allows us to consider how each book can add to our series. It also allows us to work closely with each author from both an editorial and design perspective.
I’d say one thing we really value is openness. We’re committed to remaining open to unsolicited work through our annual open reading period. Our community-led editorial model—we invite a different group of distinguished guest editors to help select our books each year—also helps us remain open to a variety of perspectives and new ideas.
In addition to this sense of openness, how else has the community-led editorial model helped shape the Futurepoem catalogue and community?
We proudly consider ourselves part of the small press publishing community, but we also see ourselves as a curatorial platform. In that sense, the diverse array of writers, critics and multi-genre artists we invite as guest editors collaborate with us in this curation. This model has been a way of transcending some of our limitations. By choosing guest editors, we’ve attracted the attention of writers who might not have otherwise known about us.
It is always amazing to me when one of the guest editors asks whether a particular manuscript is a good fit. In some sense, each group of guest editors answers that question in a unique way with their selections, informed by what we’ve published so far. I like to think this is what keeps our press fresh and helps us evolve.
What are a few things—trends, changes, other presses—that you’re excited about in the world of contemporary literature?
There are so many amazing presses that inspire us. Fellow presses we came up with like Ugly Duckling Presse, Litmus, Belladonna, Les Figues, Fence, Tender Buttons, and many others. We’re also inspired by relatively newer presses like Song Cave, Split Level, Birds LLC, Catenary, Doublecross, and BOAAT to name just a few.
We’re also encouraged that writers no longer feel the need to define themselves by one literary or artistic genre. It’s also interesting that there are journals presenting work not only in digital form, but in unique formats online influenced by animation, video and motion graphics. Being a print publisher takes on an entirely different meaning in this context. You have to redefine what you can contribute to this evolving conversation.
Can you tell us a bit about the forthcoming Futurepoem titles or anything else that’s on the horizon?
We have a wealth of great books coming up that we are really thrilled about. We just received advanced copies of Jennifer Soong’s debut collection Near, At, which will launch early fall, soon followed by Maxe Crandall’s The Nancy Reagan Collection. And directly after will be Wild Peach by Sean D. Henry-Smith and Transverse by Lindsay Choi.
We also launched The Open Futures Award—a new innovative writing contest open to writers at any stage—directed by our Managing Editor Carly Dashiell and judged by our staff editors. And this fall we’ll also be launching a space/blog called Futurefeed, curated by Associate Editor Ariel Yelen and featuring a series of online residencies by different writers and artists. All these things put us in a really great place as we fast approach our 20th year.