DIY Doom: A Brief Interview with Poet Jake Tringali

Interview conducted by C. Derick Varn

After living in Los Angeles for many years, Jake is now back in his home city of Boston. Runs rad restaurants. Thrives in a habitat of bars, punk rock shows, and late-night adventures. First published in 2014. Journals include Catch & Release, Boston Poetry Magazine, Indiana Voice Journal, and forty other fine periodicals.

Jake writes about the edges of society, and frequently about the things we no longer see, such as the hidden letters of the alphabet (“recanted”). With a strong background in cyberpunk and the hard sciences, he has a focus on the intersection of technology and human interaction. The reader will find him equally comfortable inside a mosh pit or enjoying a 12-course dinner service.  HIs recent collection, Poetry for the Neon Apocalypse, has been released from Transcendent Zero Press


C. Derick Varn: What do you see as the influence of punk rock on the Poetry from a Neon Apocalypse?  

Jake Tringali: As my friend, Slimedog says, “write like you are being punched in the face.”  He has been in the Boston music scene for a long time and writes reviews of punk shows.

The book itself follows the DIY ethic of the punk community – have a vision, overcome obstacles, and make it come true yourself.  Cobble it together, use duct tape and attitude, and get it out there.

Always remember that mosh pit friends are like no other friends.  A few of the poems in the book take place inside Boston’s punk music venues such as The Midway Cafe and Once Ballroom.  I once wrote a poem that literally takes place inside a Dead Milkmen song, and I found out later that the band liked it.
Why does the DIY punk attitude appeal to you poetically at this particular moment? 
The world is full of chaos.  We have little rituals to help maintain consistency in life.  If I can have time to myself, just a few minutes, to put one word next to another, and then another, then that is my ritual.  This stabilizes me.  No one else is in the room.
I have no certification to do this.  I asked for no one’s approval.  At most every other task in modern life, you need to follow some guideline, some laws, some constraints.  In my very own poetry universe, I can decide to start a world, end a world, or just write about leather whips for seven pages.
What are your favorite poems in this collection? 
The first poem “invisible ink” is a short piece, but it still encapsulates a lot of the book.  A universe is born, a universe dies, there is a tattoo, and an ambivalent god.   These will be recurring themes throughout the book.
“I want to be pierced onto my beloved” is my most vulnerable poem.  I leave blood on the page.
“apocalypse, red lipstick” was written a while back, and every day is becoming more true, as I read the news.  One person can wreak havoc through civilization if they just have the will to do so.
What did you discover about your work in the course of the collection that surprised you?
I was fascinated to discover what fascinates me.
I’ve been writing for the past five years.  Random subjects, no rhyme or reason to the next poem.  When it came time to put together a collection for this book, I looked over all of my writing for a common theme.  On first glance, I was interested in recording the end of civilizations, documenting the power of women, and injecting a little science into literature.
But looking deeper, these poems are about finding one’s own power within our daily chaos, and the central theme is this: the universe may end tomorrow, so revel and rebel with all your might while you can!

So here I am confronting death, armed with only my book.  I hope she likes it.
Anything you would like to say in closing? 
No, thank you.  No grand statements.  No pithy bumper-sticker aphorisms.

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