“Yooper Poetry” Features the UP Experience in Verse

Modern History Press has published works of both fiction and poetry from and about the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan. Its latest book is an anthology of poetry by Yoopers (UPers) titled Yooper Poetry: On Experiencing Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Edited by Raymond Luczak, a proud Yooper who now resides in Minneapolis (Minnesota), Yooper Poetry features poets who live or used to live in the U.P. Their poems offer an evocative feel of what it means to be a Yooper.

Yooper Poetry
Image @ Modern History Press

The poems in this collection convey varied profiles of the U.P. experience, from its natural charm to history of industrial power in ore mining and its cultural diversity. Each poet in the book enjoys literary space to share multiple pieces of their work. As Luczak notes in the foreword to the book, this enables readers to savor the work of these poets more intimately as one might with making a new friend.

The Yooper Experience of Life

Luczak notes that those like him who moved out of the U.P. have never forgotten the personal landmarks that loomed large in their formative years. In other words, they always remembered what it means to be a Yooper. And a key component of it stands on faith and resilience. As Luczak put it in the foreword:

“The Yooper mindset requires a particular kind of faith in resilience against persistent odds.”

So aside from long snowy winters, what else in life as a Yooper evokes this resilience? Luczak’s answer is the number of people living there.

“The fact that there aren’t as many people living nearby as in larger cities does lend a different mindset. We have to be more like neighbors than not. This doesn’t mean that we’re not friendly; we just have to look out for each other. This is especially true when out on the two-lane highways. If a driver is stranded on the road, someone always has to stop and ask if they need help. Somehow the seasonal changes outside make us stronger inside.”

Second Volume of Yooper Poetry

Asked whether he would be up for a second volume of Yooper poetry, Luczak welcomes the thought but is lenient on the timeframe. He hopes the first book makes its way throughout the UP and all over America and other Yooper poets he has never heard of before will have read Yooper Poetry and feel inspired enough to submit new work for the second volume.

Set to release next month, Yooper Poetry: On Experiencing Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is available for pre-ordering on Amazon. Audiobook editions will be available on Audible.com and iTunes starting April 1st, 2024.