SPOTLIGHT: An Interview with Vince Trimboli

A Summer 2013 Wesleyan MFA poetry alum, Vince Trimboli's debut chapbook, Condominium Morte, released last week from Ghost City Press. Visiting author Karen Salyer McElmurray hails this collection as hauntingly memorable:

"Condominium Morte’s haunting loneliness is the sound a kitchen clock at night and the last passing car before sleep. These are poems that pick us up and sit us down in an Edward Hopper diner at night, reminding us that living is hurting. I read these poems again and again, remembering the color of amethyst and, ultimately, the importance of faith and love."
Karen Salyer McElmurray, author of Surrendered Child and The Motel of the Stars.

Also reviewed by writers Laura Long, author of Out of Peel Tree; Adrian Blevins, author of Live From the Homesick Jamboree and The Brass Girl Brouhaha; and Wesleyan MFA core faculty member Doug Van Gundy, author of A Life Above Water, Condominium Morte is a stunning debut collection full of the questioning interiority and loss that drives many a writer. 

Below, Vince Trimboli stops by the MFA Blog to let us into his process, the chapbook's central themes, and his ongoing works. 

Since graduating from the MFA program, how have you managed your writing life with your professional life and otherwise? How/when/where do you find the best time to write?

Writing is something that just happens to me. I never feel like I need to sit down and carve out time to make myself write; it just happens when it needs to. I often think of poems as something gifted to me. I don’t know who the harbinger is, but I am grateful for them allowing me to have these little gifts of words and to be able to transcribe them. I typically write very late at night. As the poet Lucie Brock-Broido says, “I have a peculiar, and reliable, and renewable pattern of writing.” I write when I feel there is less of veil separating us from our dream selves—when I am most able to conjure the words that create this landscape, underneath or slightly ajar to our landscape. After I get the words onto the page, I spend several days, months, even years in some cases, editing the work and finding sense in the madness.

When you sit down to write a poem, do you find your inspiration in specific events, objects, people, etc., or do you draw more of your writing from emotions, feelings, or thoughts? In other words, what is your typical process for a poem? Do you envision the poem as a whole from start to finish, or do your words take you to the finish?

I like to start with titles. Once I have a title I can typically summon the rest of the poem. I find inspiration for titles everywhere. In Morte, I was heavily inspired by the works of the painter Genieve Figgis. Sometimes I borrowed titles from the work that inspired me, other times from the first phrase that came to mind after closely inspecting the work. I am also inspired by podcasts, news, and social media. Sometimes a short phrase that I hear will begin to unfold wildly in my head. Once the title is on the page, I then (to quote Brock-Broido again) allow the poem to be, “troubled into its making. It’s not like a thing that blooms; it’s a thing that wounds”. I allow the poem to go where it needs to go, and if I am freely trusting the poem rarely leads me astray. 

What can readers expect from your debut collection, Condominium Morte? What central themes and concerns does the collection address? Did you have a collective vision when writing the poems in the collection, or did the poems themselves form the collection after the writing?

Condominium Morte as a collection is particularly interested in the shared and personal aspects of loss. Loss is so important to my work. It is a driving force. If we look at life, it can be broken down by experiences of loss: of youth, innocence, love, and people. We tend to think of loss as very personal, but when someone is going through a period of loss, it often spreads beyond the borders of the personal and affects those around them. Loss also feels very specific to each of us as we go thought it, but it is in fact a very relatable experience. The poems in Morte attempt to explore this relative experience. Most of the poems are influenced by the school of poets known as Elliptical Poets. They are an attempt to construct a series of invisible bridges through language points of entry.

What current writing projects are you working on?

Currently, I am about three poems shy of a second collection I am calling (for now) Other Milkweed Diners. The poems in Morte tread such a fine line between the internal and external world, but they seem to still find their footing internally. Other Milkweed Diners still treads the same line but seems to be more about the outside world. To coin a phrase, I have been calling them the New American Pastoral. I like to think of them in their shortness and conciseness as test shots that a photographer takes to test the light. They are fast and focused. I hope to get the book out into the world sooner than later. It seems ready to breathe.

Vincent Trimboli is a native of Elkins, WV, and is a proud Appalachian. In addition to poetry, his interests include visual art as well as performance art. He holds a BA in Theatre and a MFA in Creative Writing from West Virginia Wesleyan College. Vince currently teaches Writing and Literature at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, WV. His poetry can be found at Connotation Press as well as Still: The Journal. His essays can be found in various publications, including Clemson University’s Upstart Journal. Trimboli is the Appalachian Arts Editor for HeartWood literary magazine and has served as a First Round Reader for the Firecracker Literary Award.

Visit Ghost City Press for more information on Condominium Morte.