Purdue University Graduate School

Smallest Excavations

Reason: Seeking to publish as a book

Smallest Excavations

posted on 2022-04-20, 17:11 authored by Emma Kate DepaniseEmma Kate Depanise


This thesis is a book length collection of poetry. Divided into four sections, the book explores longing, distance, and often reckons with absence, as the poems attempt to overcome absence to achieve connection. Each of the first three sections seek to reach connection in their own distinct ways: the first through engaging the natural world, the second through exploring universal challenges of the human condition, and the third through place and location. The fourth and final section displays connections achieved or reimagines absence as something that can take on a presence through language and art. Many poems throughout the book stem from personal experience, longing for a lover or reimagining childhood experiences. Other poems step outside of the self to explore historical figures, events, or places. Many poems blend personal experiences with historical or scientific research to arrive somewhere new. The poems range from narrative to lyric and often engage modes such as elegy, reverie, meditation, and ars poetica. The poems possess a strong attention to sound and line and often utilize horizontal whitespace to physically manifest absence or motion on the page. In Smallest Excavations, the poet can be thought of as a collector—of snippets of memories, factoids, places, people, and natural wonders. What is collected is changed by the speaker’s poetic rendering, just as what is collected changes and molds the speaker’s identity.


Degree Type

  • Master of Fine Arts


  • English

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Donald Platt

Additional Committee Member 2

Paige Lewis

Additional Committee Member 3

Nancy Peterson