In 1951 two intrepid women, Phyllis and her best friend, Anne, set off on a journey from Victoria, British Columbia, to Red Deer, Alberta, and back again. Travelling first by 1927 MG Roadster to Alberta, and then on horseback on the way home, the journey took months and would test the women’s wits and resourcefulness at every turn. Phyl and Anne documented their adventures and the stories of the people they met along the way in a journal, which was passed down to author Emily Ursuliak, Phyl’s granddaughter. Throwing the Diamond Hitch—an inventive, poetic retelling of the Phyl and Anne’s journey—crackles like the starter of an old roadster, and kicks like a stubborn pack pony. Ursuliak employs a variety of poetic styles and approaches to capture the personality of the two women and the motley of characters they encountered on their trip. Ride along with Phyl and Anne, and discover how to throw the elusive diamond hitch.
Throwing the Diamond Hitch follows two young women on a rip-snorting adventure by antique roadster and horseback through the Rocky Mountains. Drawing on first-person accounts and photos preserved in Phyl and Anne’s co-written diary, Ursuliak constructs a poetic narrative of two astonishing women who smoke and drink their way through the mountains and who finish each other’s sentences. Ursuliak’s confident debut shows her eye for detail and ear for language. Her poems turn cowboy culture on its head.
-Monica Kidd, author of The Year of our Beautiful Exile
Throwing the Diamond Hitch is at once a play, a poetry book, a travel journal, a history, and a western. Knotting together these forms, Ursuliak uses the particular—her grandmother and best friend’s 1951 trip by roadster and horseback—to tell a timeless story of young women who refuse to be tied down by convention. Tough, tender, well-crafted and funny, this book poignantly captures the spirit of adventurous womanhood.
-Joan Crate, author of Black Apple
This is a stunning debut collection. Ursuliak’s thoughtfully crafted lines and the dance of space and movement within her poems are impressive. Fragments of photos and handwritten notes draw the reader into a tightly woven poetic and narrative tapestry. This fresh voice calls for a quiet reading and a listening ear.
-Kim Fahner, 2016-2018 poet laureate for Sudbury, author of The Narcoleptic Madonna