A Tribute to Thomas Weso and His Food Memoirs

Denise Low and  Jane Ciabattari celebrate the lasting foodie legacy of Indigenous memoirist Thomas Weso.

Thomas Pecore Weso (1953–2023) leaves a new book, Survival Food: Stories of a North Woods Cook, published this November by Wisconsin Historical Society Press. It explores the interrelated nature of meals and memories through coming-of-age tales set on the Menominee Indian Reservation of the 1980s and 1990s. Tribal storytelling intertwines with contemporary cooking as Weso celebrates the foods he grew up with, ranging from his mother’s commodity food pantry to foraged plants and game. Weso was an author, educator, artist, and enrolled member of the Menominee Indian Nation. His books include the Gourmand Award winning Good Seeds: A Menominee Indian Food Memoir as well as Native American Stories for Kids (distributed by Simon & Schuster) and Langston Hughes in Lawrence.

Join Denise Low and Jane Ciabattari—Weso’s former wife and sister-in-law—as they read from and discuss Survival Food, share stories and video of Tom, and celebrate his legacy of humor and robustly relished meals.

This event is part of the Indigenous Voices Series sponsored by City of Healdsburg Public Art Grant.

Former Kansas poet laureate Denise Low is author of over forty books of prose and poetry, including The Turtle's Beating Heart: One Family's Story of Lenape Survival (University of Nebraska Press), Jigsaw Puzzling: Essays (Meadowlark Press), and Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press). She and her husband Thomas Weso co-founded Mammoth Publications, an independent press that specializes in Indigenous American and literary works. Low is a founding board member of Indigenous Nations Poets (In-Na-Po), and her poems have appeared in numerous publications. Forthcoming is House of Grace, House of Blood from the University of Arizona Press’s Sun Tracks series. In Healdsburg her books are available at Copperfield’s and Levin’s.

Jane Ciabattari is an award-winning short story writer and author of the acclaimed story collection Stealing the Fire. A Lit Hub columnist and regular contributor to BBC Culture, she is vice president/events (and former president) of the National Book Critics Circle, on the advisory board of The Story Prize, Lit Camp and the Bay Area Book Festival, and a Pushcart Prize contributing editor. Her reviews, interviews and cultural criticism have appeared in NPR, BBC Culture, the New York Times Book Review, Paris Review, the Washington Post, Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and Parade, where she was a longtime contributing editor. More here: