The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 24, 2013

Rhyme of modern mariner

Local attorney, Kyle Smith, puts poetry to sailing

Staff Writer

JEFFERSON — A love affair with sailing started slowly in California, but blossomed on Lake Erie.

Kyle Smith, a Jefferson based attorney, recently released a self-published book of poetry, Beyond the Breakwall, based on his sailing experiences on Lake Erie.

Smith said he started writing poetry about 20 years ago as a way to express himself but never had any formal writing training. “My high school English teacher would be aghast,” he said with a laugh.

The sailing career began slowly in southern California where Smith grew up. “The first time was on the ocean (during high school) and I got sick,” Smith said.

He went on to college at University of California at Davis and law school in Oregon.

He began sailing again many years later, in 1980 after moving to Ohio to teach law in Toledo. After moving to Ashtabula County a friend asked him to sail with him in a race and the rest is history.

“We have our own sailboat,” Smith said of his boat that he shares with his wife Loraine.

“There is a magical moment when you turn off the engine and you put up the sail and it begins to move,” Smith said.

“It’s feeling one with the lake and one with the boat with everything going on around you,” Smith said.

Among the central points of the book are poems that detail a race that crosses Lake Erie during the July 4 holiday weekend. He said there have been years when sailors have been able to make the 96-mile round trip without burning any gasoline.

“We always have a layover day and a noon poetry reading that we hold at the Kettle Creek Inn. One time I brought a poem in and read it and they liked it, and I have been doing it ever since,” Smith said.

“Part of what the book tells about is the centrality of the lake,” Smith said. He said the history of the lake, ranging from the War of 1812 to slaves escaping to Canada on the Underground Railroad, are all wound into the mystique of the lake.

“It is inspiring and I wanted to put it down in writing,” Smith said. He said the lake is such a positive part of the life of northeastern Ohio and there is so much negative ranging from algae to lake effect snow that he wanted to reinforce something positive.

Smith decided to self-publish the book because, “I wanted it to be mine.”

He said he had editing help from a local English teacher who asked to remain nameless.

“It is about getting beyond the protection of the breakwall to experience the lake,” he said.

The book is available at, Carlisle’s in the Harbor and W.E. Dalton Gallery in Conneaut.

Smith will have a book signing from noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 7 at Carlisle’s in the Harbor.