Former Central Oregon Community College student Jason Graham, aka MOsley WOtta, has become a household name at the age of 27 here in Bend and throughout Central Oregon.
He’s been a part of the local scene for years, but cemented his central role when he won the Last Band Standing competition last year. Since then, he has become a figurehead in the poet community and a role model for students.
Graham said the name “MOsley WOtta” is derived from his belief that we are all “mostly water” and he defines himself as both a poet and a rapper.
“When you speak the truth as you see it, that’s poetry,” said Graham. “And rap is a performance style of poetry.”
Graham recently opened for Ice Cube, was named poet laureate of Pilot Butte Middle School and performed a set at COCC.
For almost a year, Graham has been involved in the local schools. He has been working with Tymon Emch. Emch is the founder of Cada/Casa, a program devoted to cultivating the minds of Bend’s youth by teaching different kinds of art forms ranging from poetry to painting.
Together, Emch and Graham have developed courses like SPIT (Spoken Word Poetry Is Transition) and Hip Hop 101.
Graham and Emch have been teaching these courses at Pilot Butte Middle School and several Central Oregon high schools for some time now.
“It’s about getting these students to feel comfortable with the idea of using their own voice, to feel unified, and create a feeling of family,” said Graham.
Graham’s recent performance at COCC as part of the “Living Words” event was arranged by John MacAulay, Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College’s event coordinator.
“He’s one of our most gifted poets in this town,” said MacAulay, who has had a personal interest in poetry since accidently stumbled into a live poetry reading in a local café while seeking a simple cup of joe years ago.
MacAulay, who has known Graham since he was 19 years old, said he wanted Graham to host and headline “Living Words” because of Graham’s extensive experience.
“It’s very hard to find a poet that can do [a] half hour set without a break and keep the crowd interested and interacting,” said MacAulay.
On top of his role in the community as a respected poet, Graham also has a family, including a wife, daughter and a little one on the way. He’s coy about the baby’s gender as well as his future plans.
The rapper poet has been working with the multimedia design company called Black Eyed Productions for almost a year.
Graham also plans to continue creating his music and painting, another one of his skills.
“I spend my time in the land of dreams … come back and pay my taxes,” he said.
Colby Camirand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org