The Friends of Lorine Niedecker, Inc. is dedicated to preserving and expanding the legacy of Lorine Niedecker. Our organization offers access to research archives and educational materials, hosts an annual poetry festival each autumn in Fort Atkinson and publishes The Solitary Plover, a semiannual newsletter, and What Region, a monograph series.
Friends of Lorine Niedecker – A Short History
While the Friends of Lorine Niedecker was officially formed in June of 2004 when we were granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, 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 is Juanita Schreiner’s brief article “Lorine Niedecker: Reminiscences by a Friend and Former Classmate,” published in Cid Corman’s Origin magazine in July 1981. In 1987, Jane Shaw Knox published her Lorine Niedecker, An Original Biography, the first attempt made to produce a detailed biographical account of Niedecker’s life. Activities to preserve and enhance Niedecker’s legacy began in earnest 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, librarian 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 Activities Reports for the group. In 2005, the group established their first website, began to issue 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 grou 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 are currently led by a fifteen member board of directors.
Board of Directors
- Ann Engelman – President
- Amy Lutzke – Secretary/Treasurer
- Karl Gartung
- Ronnie Hess
- Dot Kent
- Merrilee Lee
- Tom Montag
- Nancy Shea
- Paul Smyth
- Chuck Stebelton
- Steel Wagstaff
- Bonnie Roub, Honorary Member
- Margot Peters, Emeritus
Funding and Partnerships
Friends of Lorine Niedecker is a 501(c)(3). The Friends of Lorine Niedecker is funded primarily through donations and contributions, as well as sales of materials and grants. Your contribution to the Friends is fully tax deductible. Send your contributions to:
Friends of Lorine Niedecker
209 Merchants Avenue
Fort Atkinson, WI 53538
Funding and grants have come from the following:
- “Friends,” including several individual donors who respond to a bi-annual request for funds
- Wisconsin Humanities Council
- Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets
- Fort Atkinson Arts Council
- Fort Atkinson Community Foundation
- Friends of the Dwight Foster Public Library
- Poetry Foundation
- Library Services and Technology Act funds
Partners have included:
- Dwight Foster Public Library – Fort Atkinson
- Hoard Historical Museum – Fort Atkinson
- Woodland Pattern Book Center – Milwaukee
- Token Creek Music Festival – Madison
- Chazen Museum of Art – Madison