The Lorine Niedecker Wisconsin Poetry Festival and the Friends of Lorine Niedecker are at it again.
Fort Atkinson residents and visitors are encouraged to check out the wall at the southwest corner of North Main Street and Sherman Avenue, where local artist Jeremy Pinc is painting a second downtown “poetry wall” inspired by the words of the late Fort Atkinson poet Niedecker.
Featuring a stanza from the Niedecker’s “Paean to Place,” the mural will be located along West Sherman Avenue on the north-facing wall of Tailor Made.
It follows on the heels of the first poetry wall across North Main Street, created in 2009, which features the stanza of a Niedecker poem that begins, “Fish, Fowl Flood Water Lily Mud My Life.” That wall’s success prompted the Friends of Lorine Niedecker to think about creating a second such piece of literary art.
Funders of the $5,000 project include the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation, Wisconsin Humanities Council with monies from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Fort Arts Council, Fort Atkinson Tourism Commission and the Friends of Lorine Niedecker.
The new wall will be dedicated at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 28, with a community picture to be taken at 1:15. All are welcome to participate.
The event will share the day with the “Friends and Family Weekend in Fort Atkinson,” sponsored by the Fort Atkinson Area Chamber of Commerce.
Activities start with the Fort Farmers Market, where street poet Paul Wiegel will create poems while you wait and attendees may contribute to a sidewalk chalk Poetry Path. At 10 a.m at the nearby Dwight Foster Public Library, “Wall Words in Fort Atkinson” will be presented by poet Anjie Kokan.
“We are so lucky to have her energy and expertise for this program,” said Ann Engelman, of the Friends of Lorine Niedecker “She will be fooling with words, exploring the verses on the two poetry walls and inviting everyone to take a crack at their own poem.”
The public is invited to the 1 p.m. poetry wall dedication and meet Pinc and others who helped make it possible. Then the photo shoot is at 1:15 p.m.
“This will be a part of Fort Atkinson’s history,” said Engelman. “Not every community has a poet like Lorine or a Poetry Corner. We are hoping as many people as possible will show up for the picture and be a part of this history in our town.”
There also will be poetry activities taking place just west of the wall in the Belmont Bar parking lot.
“We could not have done this project and the day’s activities without the support of the Fort Arts Council, the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation, the Wisconsin Humanities Council with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State of Wisconsin and the Tourism Commission of Fort Atkinson,” Engelman said.
“We are lucky to have poet Anjie Kokan come and help us understand what these poems mean to our lives and that Jeremy Pinc was available to fit this creation into his calendar.”
Jeremy “Guzzo” Pinc was born in Chicago in 1972. He grew up in the suburb of Oak Park, Ill., before attending the University of Richmond from 1990-94. After graduating with an art history degree, he traveled extensively, living in Italy, Montana and various parts of the Midwest.
Pinc began painting around 1995. His style has changed frequently throughout his career, but there are consistent references to Modernism, Graffiti, Comics and Graphic Design within his work. More recently, he has begun to incorporate the languages of Art Brut and Outsider Art.
He has exhibited his work at various galleries in Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago and smaller towns in between. Most recently, he curated “Future Primitive” at The Bubbler in Madison’s Central Library and will open a solo show at its main gallery in the fall. His art is owned by collectors in the Midwest, as well as on the coasts in New York and California, and across the “pond in Paris.”
Pinc resides with his wife, Cynthia Holt, in Fort Atkinson, and recently was recruited into the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Angie Kokan is an award-winning writer and teacher who enjoys sharing her love of language and writing with people of all ages and abilities. She has been facilitating creative writing workshops in Wisconsin for more than 15 years. Her writing has earned recognition from the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, the Council for Wisconsin Writers, and the Wisconsin Writers Association.
Kojkan also teaches in the English Language Academy at UW-Whitewater and serves as the contest coordinator for the WITESOL Writing and Art Contest.
Pinc and Ann Engelman will be part of the Fall Lecture series at the Fort Atkinson Club community center on Tuesday, Sept. 25. The topic will be “Inspired by Lorine,” focusing on the two poetry walls that have created a Poetry Corner in downtown Fort Atkinson. “This presentation will speak to what inspired them, how they came to be, why those stanzas were chosen, how they relate to everyday life for everyone and why in Fort Atkinson,” Engelman said.
The late Lorine Niedecker has been called the “poet of place” because her imagery is so grounded in the area where she lived. Basil Bunting called her “the Emily Dickenson of this century.” As an Objectivist poet, the simplicity of her images helps readers sense their own experiences with the elements around them.
“Lorine was strongly affected by her life on Blackhawk Island, surrounded by water. Her words weave the textures of her culture, family and neighbors,” Engelman said.
“Though she is nationally and internationally known, Wisconsin still is learning about her significance as a respected poet ranked among the 20th-century’s finest.”
During her lifetime, Niedecker published her four poetry books at infrequent intervals (“New Goose” in 1946 and “My Friend Tree” in 1962), although she was a regular contributor to literary magazines. Since her death in 1970, the publication of four additional books, her “Collected Works” (2002), in particular, has contributed to her reputation as an original and significant voice in contemporary American poetry.