I wrote the tribute to Elizabeth Ann which was pusblished in a slightly different version of the Columbus Free Press, August 8 2013. – Marley Greiner
We were saddened to learn of the death of Columbus activist and nationally recognized poet Elizabeth Ann James last Sunday, August 4. Elizabeth was a long time supporter of the Free Press and other local independent media. where she covered the local cultural arts scene. At one time she was a regular contributor to the FP and in the mid-late 1980s we shared a poetry column here.
Elizabeth was one of the first people I met when I moved to Columbus in 1979. (The late FP editor Libby Gregory was the first.) EA, as I like to call her, encouraged me to write, create, and learn. We were early members of Writers Roundtable, where good, bad, and ugly writers met monthly to vent, test our work, and cement friendships that last to this day. EA liked to hold potlucks–more like salons with a mixture of artists, writers, and political activists and neighbors–and poetry“workshops” at her home (where she also taught ballet, which I manged to avoid). I remember one such event where we read Amy Lowell as an exercise, and then attempted to write something along those great lines. Sometimes she’d pass out autumn leaves or construction paper cut into shapes, or costume jewelry, and expect us to wax poetic on them. She was a master of the “found poem” picking up scraps of overheard conversation, often picked up during her tenure as a sample lady in supermarkets, and turning them into surreal narratives of strangers.
In the early 1980s (the date escapes me at the moment) EA and I founded Cows in Flight, Columbus’ first poetry band. We were joined by Mike Dittmer and WOSU-AM’s Fred Andrle, who as it turned out, was surprisingly Druid in style and content.. COF made history and the national news when we performed a poetry reading at the old Clintonville White Castle at3:00AM.
Elizabeth was also a co-founder of the The women’s Poetry Workshop, Umbrella Poets , the Poetry Forum at Larry’s, her special group,. Muses,, and often performed at the Cultural Arts Center, the Columbus Arts Festival, bars, and other non-traditional” venues She published in quality journals all over the country.
Elizabeth worked tirelessly for human rights and dignity through her art.. She was a member of Central Ohioans for Peace,