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Keith Wilson Papers

Identifier: Ms-0451

Scope and Contents

Items in the Keith Wilson collection are divided into thirteen series, with the bulk of the material consisting of correspondence, manuscripts, and Wilson’s poetry. The first series, Biographical Information, summarizes Wilson’s career as a writer. The materials cover, both autobiographical information written by himself, such as a Curriculum Vita, and materials written about Wilson by other authors. Wilson has a lengthy autobiographical sketch of his life in Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Volume 5. The series also includes numerous newspaper clippings that reflect his accomplishments. The bulk of the information is concentrated on two achievements in Wilson’s life: The Nomination of the Governor’s Award, and the prestigious Premio Fronterizo award from Borders Books. The items that relate to both of these awards include correspondence to and from colleagues and friends, newspaper clippings, and general information about the awards. The second series, Correspondence, has been arranged by year, 1960-2003. The series includes letters to editors, publishers, friends, family, colleagues, students, and elected officials. The size of the series required that some of the years have been divided into half years (January-June, July-December). Also, the series houses several folders at the end that were originally labeled by Wilson as “Important Letters” and “Letters from Well-Known People”, which include, George Oppen, Gary Snyder, Winfield Townley Scott, Robert Creeley, Cid Corman, and Joy Harjo. The series also has folders dedicated to publishers and editors. The third series, Printed Works, has been divided into two subseries: Keith Wilson’s printed works, and Journals and Newsletters. The items in the Wilson’s Printed Works includes Wilson’s published books and his contribution to edited volumes. The second subseries, Journal and Newsletters contains Wilson’s work in published journals or newsletters. Some of the journals and newsletters that feature Wilson’s work are, Weed, Potpourri, Poetry, Granite, Sin Fronteras, Desert Review, Southwestern American Literature, Desperado, Puerto del Sol, Hiram Poetry Review, New Mexico Quarterly, Hearse, Rio Grande Writers Quarterly, Southwest Review, Kayak, Sumac, Fragments, Western Review, Poetry Now, Hanging Loose, and many more. Both subseries are arranged by year, then title in alphabetical order. The fourth series, Manuscripts, has been arranged into four subseries: Poetry, Novels, Short Stories, and Draft Copies. Items include early and final drafts of his published works, as well as drafts of works in progress, and works that have yet to be published. The manuscripts include novels, short stories, plays, and poetry such as, Sketches for a New Mexico Hill Town, Graves Registry and Other Poems, Homestead, The Shadow of Our Bones, The Old Man and Others: Some Faces for America, Midwatch, The Shaman Deer, While Dancing Feet Shatter the Earth, The Streets of San Miguel, Retablos, Stone Roses: Poems from Transylvania, Lovesongs and Mandalas, Meeting at Jal, Graves Registry, The Way of the Dove, Bosque Redondo, Collected Early Southwester Poems; Before a Darkening Chapel, Priesthood Quartette, Etudes, Martingale, Tales of Colin, and Clown Mask. The fifth series, Works by Other Authors, has been arranged into two subseries: Published and Drafts. The published subseries has been organized by year, then title in alphabetical order. The subseries includes works of Wilson’s colleagues and his personal interests. The draft subseries has been arranged by title in alphabetical order, and includes drafts of other author’s work that Wilson either proofed, or used for basis of own work. Some of the materials in this collection are gifts and poems dedicated to Wilson by colleagues and former students. The sixth series, Multimedia, has been arranged by title in alphabetical order. The series includes video and audio tapes, compact disks, and floppy diskettes. Some of the items in this series include biographical information. The seventh series, Musical Scores, includes a musical score of Wilson’s poetry. The musical score was produced by the Las Cruces Sesquicentennial Committee in 1999. The piece is housed in an oversized box. The eighth series, Oversize Broadsides, are arranged by title in alphabetical order. The broadsides in the series have been reproduced over original artwork. The ninth series, Newspaper Clippings, are various newspaper clippings that either feature Wilson in the article or clippings of personal interests. The newspaper clippings have been preservation copied on acid free paper to ensure longevity, and they are not arranged in order. The newspaper clippings span the years 1955-2003. The tenth series, Awards, are two awards that Wilson received while a professor at New Mexico State University. One award is a plaque, and the other is paper. Other distinguished awards Wilson received can be located in the Biographical Series. The eleventh series, Oversize Broadsides, are several broadsides that could not be housed in the poetry series. The oversize broadsides are not the work of Wilson, but of other authors. The twelfth series, Posters, are three oversize posters. One poster announces the readings of Frank Waters in 1980. The other oversize poster announce the readings of Keith Wilson at Western Wyoming Community College. The last poster is a drawing by Jose Cisneros. The thirteenth series, Photographs, have been arranged into two subseries: Personal Photographs, and Publication Photographs. The first subseries reflects Wilson’s personal photos of family and friends and also photographs that he used in newspaper articles or book covers. The second subseries contains items that Wilson used in publications, either in books or journals. The images in this subseries contains photographs of various missions and pueblos in New Mexico and Arizona. The images in this subseries are for viewing only and may not be copied without permission of the donor.


  • 1957 - 2003


Conditions Governing Use

Open. All materials in this collection are available for research under supervised conditions in the Research Room. Photo images may not be copied unless permission is given by the donor.

Biographical / Historical

Keith Wilson is a native New Mexican poet and short story writer renowned for his writing and poetry on the Southwest. He was born on December 26, 1927 in Clovis, New Mexico. Wilson attended the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated with a B.S. degree in 1950. He was commissioned as a lieutenant and is a combat veteran of the Korean War. Wilson served in that War from 1950-1953. He served three tours of duty and received the Presidential Unit Citation, Korean Service Medal (5 battle stars), United Nations Service Medal, Occupation Medal with Asian Clasp, and the China Service Medal. He was given the Appreciation Medal of the Republic of South Korea for his service in 2001.

Upon his retirement from regular commission in 1954, Wilson returned to New Mexico. He later received a M.A. in English from the University of New Mexico. Over the next ten years Wilson taught at the University of Nevada in Reno and the University of Arizona in Tucson. He also worked in a position as a technical writer before accepting an assistant professor position at New Mexico State University in 1965. He received full professorship in 1976, and was poet-in-residence until his retirement in 1987. His work has been translated into Spanish, German, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Indonesian, and Japanese.

Wilson’s body of work is widely recognized by the international literary community, and has won numerous awards. Among his noteworthy publications are Graves Registry, which was nominated for the National Book Award in 1992. He was nominated for the Lamont Prize in 1969, and finished as runner-up in the competition for this award. Wilson was also recognized for his contribution to American letters when he was named a Knight of Mark Twain for his “outstanding contributions to American literature.”

During his tenure at New Mexico State University, Wilson received several fellowships and awards. These include the D.H. Lawrence Fellowship, P.E.N.-America Center Writing Grant, a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, a Senior Fulbright-Hays Fellowship (Romania, 1974-1975), the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, The Authors of the Pass, a Western States Arts Foundation Book Award, a P.E.N.-West Book Award, and The Border Book Festival’s El Premio Fronterizo Award in 1998. He also received the Westhafer Teaching Award from New Mexico State University in 1972, the first awarded by the University to a professor in the creative arts. Wilson was a visiting poet in the United States and abroad, including the University of Kansas, Utah State University, as well as the Universities of Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca in Romania. Wilson also returned to his alma mater, the United States Naval Academy, as Distinguished Visiting Writer in Fall 1998. He was also a Visiting Poet at the 12th Annual William Joiner Writers Conference held at the University of Massachusetts in Boston in 1999. He again attended the Joiner Conference in 2001.

In addition, Wilson has also served as visiting director for workshops at the University of New Mexico, Bowling Green State University, State University of New York-Cortland, Utah State University, and the Banff Art Centre in Alberta, Canada. He has remained active in the New Mexico arts community as a member of the Rio Grande Institute, and as former Master Poet for New Mexico Poetry-in-the-Schools Program. This was a program that Wilson pioneered throughout New Mexico and Arizona. His presence as a writer is also recognized through his role as a consultant for the National Endowment for the Arts to Voice of America in 1975. He also served as a consultant to the Coordinating Council for Literary Magazines (CCLM) from 1972-1974.

Wilson died February 10, 2009.


43 Linear Feet (62 Boxes)

Language of Materials



Keith Wilson is a native New Mexican poet, short story writer, decorated United States Navy veteran, Professor Emeritus in the Department English at New Mexico State University, and author of twenty seven books. The Keith Wilson papers span the years 1957- 2003, and include thirteen series, with the bulk of the material consisting of correspondence and manuscripts.

Related Materials

Rudy S. Apodaca Papers. Ms 0443. New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections Department. Cinco Puntos Press Records. Ms 0452. New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections Department. Mark Medoff Papers. Ms 0453. New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections Department.

Processing Information

Preliminary processing by Caerillon Thomas, September-October 2003 Processing by Jerry Wallace, December 2003-April 2004 Updated by William Boehm, June 2005
Guide to the Keith Wilson Papers
In Progress
Preliminary processing by Caerillon Thomas, September-October 2003. Processing by Jerry Wallace, December 2003-April 2004. Updated by William Boehm, June 2005.
June 2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA