Dr. Jason Mosser, Professor of English, is one of the senior most faculty members at GGC. He has been here since the beginning, when the college admitted its first freshmen in 2007, and he helped build the English program from the ground up.
I’ve had the pleasure of taking three of his classes, and there is a reason I kept coming back.
He is at once an everyman and an intellectual, someone who can hold forth without talking down, who can wax poetic without affecting a wane in student interest.
I sat down with him recently to learn more about his life and his poetry. Our chat was occasioned by a poetry reading he performed in the Cisco Auditorium a few days prior. He published a poetry chapbook in the summer of 2018, titled Salvage, and for this event, he read some of his unpublished poems. I want to share some of them with you.
You will quickly realize that the man is the poetry and the poetry is the man. Much of Dr. Mosser’s poetry is autobiographical. He was born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia, and had a middle-class upbringing. He laments the fact that many take “middle class” and “West Virginia” to be like oil and water.
“Most people that I meet have never met anybody from West Virginia, but they have these stereotypes—coal miners, toothless old rednecks, big overalls. You wouldn’t think there’s a middle class in West Virginia, but I’m from the middle class. . . . As I was driving home yesterday, I was listening to an interview with some woman who had written yet another novel about poor people in Appalachia living out in the hollers. It’s always the same damn story. I grew up around some of that, the sort of hillbilly stuff, for sure. But, again, I had a middle-class upbringing like any other baby boomer, with a TV and indoor plumbing and air conditioning.”
Two of Dr. Mosser’s favorite poets are Charles Bukowski and T.S. Elliot, and I suspect that this is not a coincidence. These poets sit on opposite ends of a spectrum—the dirty realist in Bukowski and the erudite modernist in Elliot. Like the everyman and the intellectual, like the dirty realist and erudite modernist, like the middle class and West Virginia, Dr. Mosser shows in his poetry—and perhaps in his life—that oil and water do in fact mix.