About the Book
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.
Emily Ursuliak writes both poetry and fiction. She holds an MA in English from the University of Calgary, and a passion for literacy and her chosen career, librarianship. She is the host and producer of CJSW’s literary radio show, Writer’s Block, where she interviews authors, records readings, and peers into the private libraries of Calgary book lovers. She calls Calgary, Alberta, home. Throwing the Diamond Hitch is her first book.
Praise for Throwing the Diamond Hitch:
[The book is] unlike any poetry book I’d encountered previously and took me by surprise… I came to see this more as epic poetry in the tradition of Homer and the Odyssey. It’s a tale of adventure. Breaking the story into poetry fragments allows us to see the journey from a variety of perspectives. It would make a great book for discussion in a book club.
– Susanne Reymer, The Billings Gazette
Emily Ursuliak’s Throwing the Diamond Hitch offers an insightful and endearing literary testament of Phyllis and Anne’s 1951 trip from the west coast to the Rockies and back again. The story ties together many seeming dichotomies: the mixture of poetry and prose, the factual accounts from the journal and literary interpretations, third person omniscience and first person accounts, and the triumph of Anne and Phyllis’ individuality and the connection to the community they discover. This omnipresent layering leaves you longing to return to the story to unweave that hitch, but it is this literary knot that makes the work so intriguing in the first place.
– Logan Pollon, Freefall Magazine
This cycle of poems had everything I wanted and more…[The] rollicking tale of the bravery and adventurousness of two incredible women on the Canadian plains is sure to please.
– Megan Clark, Broken Pencil
An intriguing portrait of these two fiercely independent women on an unlikely and unusual journey.
– Rob McLennan, Rob McLennan’s Blog
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
WINNER, 2018 High Plains Book Award for Poetry | 2018