Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Christine Stewart


culture, ethnographic verse, ethnography, place-based poetry, poetry, supernatural


This thesis discusses the theories of ethnography and ethnographic verse and applies these two theories in an original narrative in verse. Ethnography and ethnographic verse have a complicated relationship when it comes to a poet’s authority representing a certain place. Yet authenticity is never obtainable, since perceptions of a place are always subjective. That subjectivity allows a poet creative expression, as he or she shapes his or her relationship with a place and the people within it. The poet then must rely on elements like unifying imagery, dialect, surrealism, and empathetic insights. With these elements, a poet can identify with a community through unique descriptions and reflection that build connections between that poet and his or her subjects. I utilize these elements in my own poetry. By using the theories of ethnography and ethnographic verse, I have written a manuscript of poetry that builds upon (and even deviates) from the works of poets I looked to during my research process. This manuscript of poetry attempts to represent a group of people in a rural small town. Rural realism and supernatural surrealism both create a sense of community for readers. In the end, the manuscript of poetry aims to establish a connection between the speaker and the community. After this manuscript of poetry, I discuss the creative process that went into this thesis. I reflect upon the theories and concepts and how I have applied them in my own poetry. I then discuss works by Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, and contemporary poets like Ted Kooser and Ron Rash. Finally, I analyze how those works influenced the decisions I made while composing my narrative in verse.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Narrative poetry.
Ethnology in literature.
Community life -- Poetry.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 87-89)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University

Included in

Poetry Commons



Rights Statement

In Copyright