The Friends of Lorine Niedecker

The Friends of Lorine Niedecker, Inc. is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and expanding the legacy of Lorine Niedecker. In addition to maintaining this website, FoLN offers access to research archives and educational materials, publishes The Solitary Plover, a semiannual newsletter, and What Region, a monograph pamphlet series, and coordinates public events in support of its mission.

Board of Directors

The Friends of Lorine Niedecker (FoLN) are governed by a volunteer board of directors.

  • Deb Bauer
  • Jeremiah Beitzel, Secretary
  • Ann Engelman, President
  • Karl Gartung
  • Merrilee Lee, Treasurer
  • Richard Meier
  • David Pavelich
  • Steel Wagstaff

A Brief History of the Friends of Lorine Niedecker

While the Friends of Lorine Niedecker was officially incorporated as a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in June 2004, the roots of the organization stretch back much further. The first indication that “friends” in Fort Atkinson had begun to care about Lorine’s legacy was a talk about Lorine Niedecker’s life and poetry given by Jane Shaw Knox in April 1971 to The Tuesday Club of Fort Atkinson, just a few months after Niedecker’s sudden death from a cerebral hemorrhage in December 1970. A lightly edited version of this biographical sketch was published in a special Lorine Niedecker issue of Cid Corman’s Origin magazine in July 1981, along with a brief reminiscence by her friend and former classmate Juanita Schreiner. On May 12, 1987 (the 84th anniverary of Niedecker’s birth), Niedecker’s friend Gail Roub oversaw the publication of an annotated version of Knox’s biographical essay as a short pamphlet entitled Lorine Niedecker, An Original Biography, complete with historical photographs, a chronology of Niedecker’s life, an annotated bibliography by Glenna Breslin, and excerpts from a few letters.

Historical marker at Lorine Niedecker's cabin

Activities to preserve and enhance Niedecker’s legacy in Fort Atkinson continued at the Dwight Foster Public Library in the late 1980’s. Reports and meeting minutes began to document acquisitions, visitors and expenditures. In 1990, a group of local citizens, led by Lorine’s friends Gail and Bonnie Roub, library director Mary Gates, and volunteer Marilla Fuge began advocating to have a Wisconsin Historical marker placed at Lorine’s home on Blackhawk Island. The marker was erected in 1991. Mary and Marilla also conducted a series of interviews with local residents that had known Lorine.

In 2003, Marilla Fuge and Mary Gates “retired” from leadership of Niedecker activities. The following year, Amy Lutzke, the Assistant Director of the Dwight Foster Public Library, and Ann Engelman, a Fort Atkinson-based volunteer, refocused Mary and Marilla’s longtime efforts to promote Lorine’s poetry and officially established The Friends of Lorine Niedecker as a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and began to generate annual activity reports for the group.

In 2005, the group established their first website, began to issue The Solitary Plover, a semi-annual newsletter and created a study unit for use in the school system. In 2009, the Friends of Lorine Niedecker began to host an annual Lorine Niedecker Wisconsin Poetry Festival initiated a number of public art projects. In 2013, the group sponsored the formation of The Solitary Plovers study group in Fort Atkinson and launched the What Region? monograph series in 2015. The Friends of Lorine Niedecker started the North Central reading series in 2023.

Support our mission

The activities of the Friends of Lorine Niedecker are funded primarily through donations and contributions, as well as sales of materials and grants. As a registered 501(c)(3), your contributions to the Friends are fully tax deductible. You can donate via PayPal using the link below:

Contributions can also be mailed to:

Friends of Lorine Niedecker
209 Merchants Avenue
Fort Atkinson, WI 53538

Grantees & Partners

FoLN is grateful to have received previous support in the form of grants and donations from a wide variety of public and private organizations, including:

  • Wisconsin Humanities Council
  • Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets
  • Wisconsin Arts Board
  • Fort Atkinson Arts Council
  • Fort Atkinson Community Foundation
  • The Friends of the Dwight Foster Public Library
  • Poetry Foundation (Chicago)
  • Library Services and Technology Act

FoLN has also partnered with a range of partners in producing publications and public events (like poetry festivals, readings, lectures, performances, and art installations). Some of these partners include:

  • Dwight Foster Public Library – Fort Atkinson
  • Hoard Historical Museum – Fort Atkinson
  • Woodland Pattern Book Center – Milwaukee
  • Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets
  • Token Creek Music Festival – Madison
  • Chazen Museum of Art – Madison
  • Write On Door County – Fish Creek

Annual Activity Reports

Land Acknowledgement Statement

The Friends of Lorine Niedecker acknowledge that in Jefferson County, along the shores of the Rock River, we reside on land that has been home to various peoples  since time immemorial, and in a state where the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida, Potawatomi, and Mohican nations remain present. We profess a commitment to the work of dismantling the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism.