Counting Down to Surviving Death: An Editor’s Insight into Kyla Houbolt’s Poetry Collection


In just a few short days, on November 4th, we will have the privilege of introducing you to a transformative experience—Kyla Houbolt’s ‘Surviving Death’ poetry collection. As Editor-in-Chief of The Broken Spine, I am eager to share my thoughts and anticipation with you as we count down to this momentous release.

Exploring the Enigmatic Coyote

Drawing inspiration from ‘Coyote Dream II’ by Karen Pierce Gonzalez, this poem delves into the mysticism associated with the figure of the coyote—a traditional trickster in many Native American tales. The poem’s atmospheric quality is haunting, and the coyote’s presence after Hurricane Floyd and the poet’s father’s death is symbolic of change, transition, and the unpredictable facets of nature. There’s a hint of the whimsical, a nod to the unpredictable nature of life, and an acceptance of the unknown. Houbolt’s mention of the coyote’s adaptability and survival instincts is emblematic of the human spirit’s resilience. It’s a reminder that, like the coyote, we all have an innate capacity to adapt, survive, and even thrive amidst life’s storms.

Coyote, a symbol of life’s unpredictability, takes on various guises in Houbolt’s work, from a coastal wanderer to the embodiment of change. Through these encounters, we question the role of chaos and unpredictability in our lives.

‘Coyote is a friend of mine,
at least, he told me he was,
but how can you trust a creature
who shows up everywhere?’

A Surreal Encounter with Nature and Abandoned Vehicles

This poem artfully juxtaposes nature and machinery. The image of a tree growing through an abandoned vehicle speaks volumes about the inexorable march of time, nature reclaiming spaces, and the dichotomy between human creations and the lasting power of nature. The poem also subtly touches upon the themes of consciousness and sentience, asking us to reflect on the intersections between living and non-living entities. It’s reminiscent of mid-20th century poets, like Ted Hughes, who often touched upon man’s relationship with nature. This poem also signifies the importance of looking beyond what meets the eye, understanding the layered complexities of life, and finding beauty in the unconventional.

‘One of my favorite things is when a tree
grows up through an abandoned vehicle–
that combination of industrial discard
with raw life force in its slow form.’

The Poignant Symbolism of Clear Plastic Raincoat

In this evocative piece, Houbolt paints a vivid tableau of grief and remembrance. The clear plastic raincoat, an unusual sartorial choice, becomes an emblem of recognition, a bridge between the known and the unknown. The poem touches upon loss and the continuation of life after death. This transparent garment, amidst its materialism, could be said to provide a window into the soul, underscoring the idea that while the physical may fade, essence remains. The chain-link fence symbolises a boundary, perhaps between life and the afterlife, emphasising that there are lines we can’t cross, no matter how dearly we wish to.

‘My mom and I held hands
and followed behind him,
the man in the clear plastic raincoat
whom we still recognized clearly,
until he passed through
a chain link fence
and walked on from there.’

Conclusion: Unraveling Life’s Complexities

‘Surviving Death’ by Kyla Houbolt promises to unravel the human experience’s complexities. Through her poetry, we journey through real and surreal worlds, grapple with life’s unpredictabilities, and find beauty in unexpected places.

As we await the release of ‘Surviving Death’ on November 4th, let’s embrace the anticipation. It is my privilege to serve as your Editor-in-Chief and share in this literary journey. In just a few days, we embark on an exploration of life, death, and everything in between—a journey that will leave an indelible mark on our hearts and minds.

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