STEVE KISSING turned to writing in his mid-30’s. He can’t explain why; it was just an undeniable urge to do so. Over the ensuing 20 years, he has written all kinds of stuff, most notably a childhood memoir, Running from the Devil, which has been published in both narrative and graphic novel forms. Publishers Weekly described the book as “hilarious,” “sad” and “fully absorbing.” Someone on amazon called it “the worst book ever written.” You’ll have to judge for yourself.
His other writing credits include several poetry chapbooks, and the inclusion of poems in some print and online literary journals. One reimbursed Steve with a so-so pencil sketch of a cat. (Steve believes he got the better end of that deal.) He has also written dozens of articles for publications ranging from Cincinnati Magazine and Ceramics Today to upcoming appearances in the Huffington Post and Writer’s Digest.
Steve pays the bills and helps feed his family as a member of Cincinnati’s robust PR and advertising community. He is the managing director of Wordsworth Communications in Pendleton. His most significant contribution to the company to date has been instituting early dismissal on summer Fridays.
Among the minor awards Steve has won for his writing include recognition for “Best Feature Story” and “Best Columnist” from organizations such as the Cleveland Press Club and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. (He has yet to be recognized by the Ohio Society of Unprofessional Journalists, but he remains hopeful.) Steve has also won more than 100 local, regional and national awards from the American Advertising Federation. One award was for a poster Steve wrote to promote a local Catholic church festival. It featured an illustration of a Ferris wheel and read: “Enjoy it folks. It’s as close to heaven as some of you are likely to get.”
(Link to the website for the graphic novel version of RFTD.)
(A recent piece about the graphic novel in CityBeat.)
(An “Odd Man Out” column, pretty much chosen at random.)
Word of Mouth Cincinnati, which began in January 2014, is co-hosted by fellow writers Jim Palmarini and Mark Flanigan. It was founded in memory of the late Aralee Strange who, after many years living, writing and producing work in the Cincinnati area, moved to Athens, Georgia where she co-founded Athens Word of Mouth.
WoMC is an intentional arc of both past and future utterance, inspired by our most revered voice, with a nod to her Athens, GA compatriots. Word of Mouth asks poets to Show Up, Mouth Off and Pay Attention.
Admission to Word of Mouth Cincinnati is free and open to all ages, although some content may contain adult themes and language. MOTR Pub 1345 Main Street Cincinnati, OH 45202.
Larry didn't just give into excess, he embraced it, screwed it, and eventually pledged total allegiance to it. The tally says it all: four marriages, a dozen apartments, three stints in rehab. From his sophomore year in high school until his death at 41, he barely lived a day without weed, booze, and pills, and often all three. None of his friends were surprised when he wrapped his carand his spine around a tree.
And now here I sit in my bass boat, anchored in an especially pretty and fishy cove, holding a Tupperware of Larry's ashes. Fishing was about the only thing that seemed to settle him. Sure, he brought along a flask or a pipe even on the early morning trips, but he never seemed drunk or high when fishing. He could concentrate. And his smiles and laughs seemed genuine, not forced or tainted with malice. During his last stay in rehab, Larry made me promise to dump his ashes into this lake should he die before I did a forgone conclusion, I remember thinking then.
I peel off the lid and a few bits of him flutter off in the wind, probably riding the breeze to the nearest bar. I slowly pour his ashes into the lake and watch as the light gray substance clumps and turns black. I fantasize about the water reconstituting Larry, though I suppose if anything were going to reanimate him, it wouldn't be pristine, spring-fed lake water but a dirty martini. The clumps of ash sink, continuing the downward trajectory that began 25 years ago when he was cut from the football team for selling pot.
Despite my swirling lake water around the container in an attempt to get every bit of ash out, a few particles cling to the sides and bottom. So I do what I have never done while fishing: litter. I toss the container into the water. There's just enough wind-generated churn on the surface to flip it over. It fills with water, sinks and disappears. I turn the boat's motor on and head toward one of Larry's lucky spots, hoping he was pleased with his very last time going overboard.