by John Winn
Cook. Restauranteur. Expatriate writer extraordinaire.
From Chicago to Lagos, Nigeria, Jason Czebotar has packed more into his life than many well-known authors in a lifetime. Equal parts cosmopolitan and romantic, Czebotar's work ranges from the raw to the maudlin. Love, anger, sadness--if there's a mood, there's a Czebotar poem to express it.
Hennen's John Winn caught up with Czebotar and discussed his unique background, the origin of his website--and the relative chops of two long dead poets.
JW: You're a Jack of all trades--a writer, cook, restauranteur. How have those experiences informed your work?
JC: I think that all of these experiences tie into a general need to express myself in the only way I understand. I think that words, ingredients and life experience all present a individually unique way to represent ones passion. Words give me the paint to create metaphorical pictures of my inner insecurities, thoughts and general misunderstanding of my place in the world. In the same regard, cooking allows me to represent these same themes with a more pleasant taste so-to-speak. As far as being a restaurateur, I believe that is the necessary evil of getting your flavor into the hands of willing patrons, and making a living doing so. If I could provide my food and word melodies in a cohesive manner, then I would no longer rely on my dream state for ultimate creative fulfillment.
JW) Where did the idea for the website come from?
JC: - Actually I just wanted / needed to get my angst out there for others to read and interpret for themselves. I feel that my work, while vivid and dark, can also be the inspiration for exploration of thought and just below the surface analysis of human motivation and intention. By the obvious lack of promotion of my site, you can see that it is more of a forum to put my work out there in the way I intend it to appear for me. I would love for people to be able to access my poems and post their own as well, and while that is the ultimate goal, the idea came from a need to post my thoughts to everyone and no one at the same time.
JW) Your poems are incredibly vivid. Where do you get the inspiration for them?
JC: 100% from the inability to deal with structured life intellectually. I live that life, people who know me in that role think I embrace it, even enjoy it to a certain extent. These poems are the 'real' me and maybe even my view of the 'real' you. These are what you would think about if you thought about it. These words are the pictures of my mind, hence the metaphorical tone of the poems.
JW) If you could live someone else's life for a day, living or dead, who would it be and why?
JC: - That is a great question, and I am not sure if living anyone else's life for a day would be as fun with me at the helm, for them anyway. If I had to pick someone though I may go with Thoreau, just because it must have been so nice to just think about thought. Today that is seemingly impossible, now the thoughts are what we think and to dig out of that in peace is to be 'old school', or whatever. These days it seems that educated introspection as a way of life is a thing reserved for the elite, or the homeless. Back then those things were what they were and you just were that. For one day it would be nice just to be.
JW) Final Q: Tennyson or Whitman? Who would win in a poetry slam?
JC: I would have to go with Tennyson on this one.