Steve Abbott

After graduating, I sang in a rock band (the late Al Sanese, WHS 69, was drummer) for a year or so and ultimately graduated from OSU with a degree in broadcast journalism in 1971. During this time I left Catholicism behind and became involved in other spiritual practices and the antiwar movement. In 1970, I was a founding member of the Columbus Free Press, an underground newspaper, and worked as an editor & writer there for 4 years while working a variety of part-time jobs. In 1972 I was arrested along with several prominent activists and charged with various misdemeanors related to antiwar demonstrations; Abbott v. Columbus is a well-regarded case on the right to reasonable bail. Ah, legacy.

After charges were dismissed in 1974, I worked for five years as a courtroom bailiff in Franklin County Municipal Court, where I met and married Carol Sturgill, mother of three, in 1978; the marriage lasted until 1986. After leaving Muni Court in 1979, I was a private investigator for two years and taught part-time at Columbus Technical Institute, which in 1988 became Columbus State Community College. From 1980-1990 I was PR/communications director for a social service agency and continued to teach in the evening.

Steve and Melanie Abbott

Steve & Melanie Abbott

When I left the PR job, I returned to grad school at OSU and earned an MA in English Education while teaching part-time at CSCC and free-lance writing. In 1993 I was hired full-time in Columbus State’s English Department, teaching composition, creative writing, mass communication, and literature with a specialty in poetry. In 1999 I helped to organize the Columbus State Education Association, which in 2001 became the faculty union. I served two terms as CSEA’s president and was lead negotiator of its first two contracts. I was twice a finalist for the college’s Distinguished Teaching Award and was among the first faculty to receive its Distinguished Full Professor award in 2011. Now semi-retired, I have emeritus status and continue to tutor at CSCC.

Melanie Boyd and I met as adjunct faculty at CSCC in 1991, started dating in 1995, lived together for several years, and then split up. We re-connected 7 years ago and have been married now for 6. We live in Old North Columbus (what some call Baja Clintonville). Previously I owned & lived in homes in the University District and Upper Arlington.

I became active in Columbus’ poetry scene in the 1980’s and was a founding member of The Poetry Forum at Larry’s (a renowned campus-area bar). The weekly reading series, now at a different location, is one of the Midwest’s longest-running poetry venues. I received an Individual Excellence Award in poetry from the Ohio Arts Council in 1993 and an OAC residency on Cape Cod in 1994. Several chapbooks of my poetry have been published, and a full-length collection is forthcoming. I edit Ohio Poetry Association’s annual member journal Common Threads. I’ve also been an active member of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus since 1997 and have served as chair of its board of trustees.

Through all of this, I’ve been fortunate to stay in touch with a core of friends from high school. Those connections reach across the country, and beyond my family they are my longest and among my deepest friendships.

I was among the founders of Columbus’ annual volunteer-run festival ComFest in 1972 and continue to be active in its General Planning Committee. Early on after high school, I threw in my lot with the little guys and others without power, and I’m proud to have been continually involved in action that supports social justice (JFK’s inaugural speech included, “Here on earth, God’s work must truly be our own”). My mother once said, “You always wanted things to be fair,” but I never asked whether she thought that pitifully noble or simply indicative of an unrealistic character flaw. Regardless, I find peace in gardening, which allows me the illusion that I have control of something in the universe, and which routinely proves me wrong.