Getting to Know Jake Tringali and His New Book, Poetry for the Neon Apocalypse
When did you first encounter poetry? How did you discover that you wanted to write poems?
A long time ago, at the university, I had already taken all my required courses for Computer Science. I spent the last year in all arts classes, including Creative Writing. I won a poetry contest that year, and stopped writing poetry soon after.
Then, for 20 years, I lived my life.
Finally, after that hiatus, I had something to say, so I picked up a pen and began to write poetry, usually late nights at restaurants and bars.
I wanted to write poems because the ones I were reading felt too similar, with the same point of view. If I picked up a poetry anthology, I could be sure that 30% of the poems had a stream or a tree or a flower as a focal point for the setting. I wrote in rebellion.
Do you have a writing routine? A favorite time or place to write?
I run restaurants and bars. Sometimes, there isn’t much to do from 9 pm to 12 midnight. And there’s nothing to do on the T, so I write during my train commute.
Where do your poems most often come from—an image, a sound, a phrase, an idea?
My poems usually come from a conversation with a friend. They will inspire an idea that will migrate and transmogrify into a final product.
Which writers (living or dead) do you feel have influenced you the most?
My influences are William Gibson and the cyberpunk writers, as well as Asimov and similar gods. David Bowie and Aimee Mann have also changed my writing style. For poets, I get my kicks off of Kevin Prufer, and early Sharon Olds.
Tell us a little bit about your new collection: what's the significance of the title? Are there over-arching themes? What was the process of assembling it? Was is a project book? Etc.
A lot of my poems deal with the creation of the universe, or the end of the universe. And a different set of my poems take place in an urban setting. So “Neon Apocalypse” seemed to have a nice ring to it.
The overarching theme is that life is random, and the end of the world could be right around the corner, and we will probably not even see it coming. So: revel! Revel! Get up on your feet! Create something, smash something, but don’t just sit there.
At one point in 2017, I realized that I had enough good poems that could fill an 80-page book, and many of them had already been previously published in literary magazines. I reached out to an editor of one of the magazines, and they were immediately interested in creating a book with me. We signed a contract, and I drank Champagne. So, I went through my portfolio, chose the poems and the order, and did a little bit of editing, and then handed them to my editor/publisher.
A sample poem from Poetry for the Neon Apocalypse: “this is my tribute to double middle fingers, high in the air”
you must really try this sometime
i don’t know who you are, or what you do
this will improve your standing, your metabolism
this will improve your soul
find your center of gravity, find your stance
get your body prepared
this will be a physical act, crude meat and bone and blood
i don’t care what you’re wearing
these may help: doc martens, (IMPROV)
or you could just go buck naked
the gods are watching above you
pity them, pity the little gods
get ready to scream
don’t scream, not yet
instead, use your inner resources to stop the planet from revolving
envision your own intimate hell where fear and despair got the
better of you
did you get another parking ticket in cambridge?
do you feel like an imposter in this world?
did your boss casually disrespect your life choices and your
get eyeball to eyeball with your fear before you tear it and swear it
it is best if you keep your heartrate up
adrenaline is your friend
the dying earth is crumbling beneath your feet
plotting to kill you
it’s you versus the world
your demons are close by
they’ll give you the best advice, everytime
do you want to spit blood? spit blood!
now, starting with your little toe to your big toe,
through the curvy calves, that awesome ass, that beautiful body,
raise your arms, raise your hands, raise your fingers
and the middle fingers exposed
and rock that pose