Backwoods and Back Words by Nicole Yurcaba is a unique collection of words that is fresh, inspiring and heartwarming. Yurcaba intertwines poetry, photography, and slices of memoir into a vision that is fun to read because the reader doesn’t know what the next piece will be like.
Yurcaba comes from a Ukrainian background, and although that is apparent in her writing, in this collection she focuses more on the experiences of her rural Pennsylvania and West Virginia growth into adulthood. With so many new books of poetry to read each year, the life of a strong Ukrainian woman who hunts and fishes, keeps cattle and visits coal mines is a wonderful change of pace in the world of contemporary American poetry.
Poems such as “My Hands”, “Dress Rehearsal” and “Dirt Between the Fingernails” are excellent reminders of gender stereotypes, where a woman shouldn’t have to prove anything to anyone, but just by living life, demonstrates her strength of character, demanding respect in the process.
it takes a steady-handed, nerves-of-titanium
sitting tall in the golden seat
of a four-wheel drive
(engine chugging in one-and-low)
to slyly steer Goodyear wheels
against a forested hill’s grass-slicked, limb-licked incline,
drawing taut a rusty, leaden-linked chain,
to free the clay-mud-enslaved
5040 Mustang skid loader
stuck unpurposely by
an impatient man’s
Yurcaba has several memoir pieces in the collection, my favorite being “Fossilized”, a story of a young girl’s initial romantic view of the coal mine, and then her understanding of the horrible circumstances a coal mine brings to both workers and caged birds alike.
Poems such as “Hunting Days” are met with other poems such as “Night Vigil”, a poem about the beauty of owls, and one can see that Yurcaba is a lover of the all things outdoors. She is reminding us Big City dwellers, where we are lucky to find a patch of grass for our dog, that being out in nature with animals is a lifestyle, that to own a rifle isn’t a bad thing.
Yurcaba’s next collection of poetry will be more about her Ukrainian heritage, and after reading Backwoods and Back Words, I can’t wait for its release.
Backwoods and Back Words is published by Unbound Content and is 79 pp. It can be ordered from the publisher, Amazon and other channels.