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Denise Low papers

Call Number: MS 334


Denise Low was the Poet Laureate of Kansas from 2007-2009 and served on the faculty of Haskell Indian Nations University for over 25 years, during which time she founded the creative writing program. Low has published over 20 volumes of poetry, essays, edited collections, and other writings and is co-publisher of Mammoth Publications. This collection includes drafts, manuscripts, published materials, personal and professional papers, correspondence, and journals from throughout her career and regarding her personal life.


  • Creation: 1967 - 2020


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Denise Low (1949- )

Denise Low was born in 1949 to parents William Francis Dotson (November 6, 1915-1994, parents William Harrison Dotson and Carrie Adele Strittmater) and Dorothy Lea (Bruner) Dotson (October 27, 1915-2003, parents Frank Lathrop Bruner and Eva "Evelyn" Miller). She grew up in Emporia, Kansas. Low was the youngest of four, preceded by Mary Francis Dotson (1936-2006), William David Dotson (born 1942), and Dorothy Jane Dotson (born 1946). Low is a fifth generation Kansan of mixed German, British, and unaffiliated Lenape (Delaware) and Cherokee heritage.

Low has studied her craft extensively, earning a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas (KU) in 1971, a masters of arts in English from KU in 1974, a masters of fine arts in Creative Writing from Wichita State University in 1984, and a Ph.D. in English from KU in 1997. She taught at Haskell Indian Nations University for over 25 years, founding the creative writing program there. She has also been visiting professor in creative writing programs at the University of Richmond (2005) and the University of Kansas (2008). She currently teaches at Baker University in Baldwin, KS. Low served on the board of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) from 2008-2013 and as its President from 2011 to 2012.

Low is co-publisher of Mammoth Publications with her husband Thomas Pecore Weso. Founded in 2003, the press specializes in Indigenous and regional writers. Low has written about authors and poets associated with or who came from Kansas, including Langston Hughes and William Stafford. She has also researched and written extensively on Native American ledger art and cultural practice. Some of Low's book-length publications have included Natural Anthologies (2011), Tulip Elegies: An Alchemy of Writing (1993), Ghost Stories of the New West (2010), Touching the Sky: Essays (1994), Quilting (1984), Vanishing Point (1991), New and Selected Poems (1999), Thailand Journal: Poems (2003), Melange Block (2014), Jackalope (2016), and The Turtle's Beating Heart (2017).

Low married Donald Andrew Low on January 10, 1972. Together they had two children: David Andrew and Daniel Lee. The Lows divorced in 1983. Donald was later remarried to Diane Grant. In December 1983, Low married Anthony "Tony" Thomas Allard. They had no children and divorced in 1992.

In December 1994, Low married Thomas "Tom" Francis Pecore Weso. They had no children together, but Low gained a stepdaughter, PeMecewan "Pemmy" Wesosa Fleuker, whose mother is Janet Fleuker. PeMecewan has two children with Josh Meisel: Curtis Fleuker and Frances Pearl Meisel.


19.75 Linear Feet (21 boxes + 2 oversize boxes)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This collection consists of manuscript drafts, correspondence, journals, event information, and other documentation of Denise Low's professional and personal life. The collection has been organized into 8 series: Works; Events; Publicity; Alphabetical files; Professional activities; Family documents; Journals; and materials that had been laid in publications that have been separately cataloged by Spencer staff. Works comprises the bulk of the collection and has been further subdivided into subseries for Major Works; Poetry; Short prose; and Scholarly articles/publications.

Correspondence associated with specific manuscript materials was kept with its respective manuscripts. Correspondence is organized chronologically as new drafts were created over time. Correspondence not associated with a specific manuscript is organized alphabetically within each appropriate series (i.e. the Alphabetical files or the Family documents).

When possible, materials on a singular topic have been consolidated together. However, in an attempt to follow some of Low's own organizational style, material on some topics may be found in several series, such as in both Works and Publicity, the Alphabetical files, and/or Professional activities.

Oversize materials have been physically separated from the rest of the collection for their preservation and are typically described at the end of each series or sub-series in which they belong.

Series List

The Denise Low collection has been organized into 8 series. Each series may be organized alphabetically and/or chronologically.

  1. Works (sub-series include Major Works; Poetry; Prose; and Scholarly articles/periodicals)
  2. Events (sub-series include Presentations and lectures; Conferences)
  3. Publicity (sub-series include Press; Reviews; News clippings; and Flyers/promotional materials)
  4. Alphabetical files
  5. Professional Activities (sub-series include Kansas Poet Laureate; Mammoth Publications; and Haskell Indian Nations University)
  6. Family documents
  7. Journals
  8. Laid-in items from separated materials

Physical Location

MS 334

Physical Location

MS 363

Physical Location

MS Q106

Physical Location

MS Qa19

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Denise Low, 2013; gifts, Denise Low, 2018-2020.

Related Materials

The Stafford-Low Correspondence is a collection of letters between Low and Kansas poet William Stafford housed at the Axe Library, Pittsburg State University, accessioned in 1999.

Denise Low-Weso Papers. Sequoyah National Research Center, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Separated Materials

Monographs, chapbooks, serials, and other published materials have been removed from the manuscript collection and separately cataloged. They can be found in the KU libraries catalog by searching for "from the papers of Denise Low."

Processing Information

Much of the 2018 and some of the 2019 and 2020 additions to the collection came unfoldered. Where possible, Spencer staff retained Low's original organization when materials were in folders; otherwise, staff followed the existing collection organization.



Guide to the Denise Low Collection
Denise Low papers
Finding aid prepared by jrw, mnm, 2015. Finding aid encoded by mnm, 2016. Finding aid revised by nw, mwh, 2020, revised by eje, 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Support for processing portions of this collection was provided by the G. Baley Price Spencer Research Library Fellowship Fund.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Denise Low papers, MS 334, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States