Red Leaves:
Selected Haiku of Peggy Lyles

by Peggy Lyles

Red Leaves:
Selected Haiku of Peggy Lyles

ISBN 978-1929820238 • 2023
160 pages clothbound • $30.00 US

publication date: April 9, 2023

Brooks Books is pleased to publish this second edition, Red Leaves: Selected Haiku of Peggy Lyles. The title comes from one of Peggy’s last haiku published before her death in 2010.

In this edition we chose to include the entire contents of the first edition, To Hear the Rain. We have included all prefaces and haiku from that edition along with updated publication and award credits, plus additional haiku.

We also are grateful for the 2022 collection of Peggy’s haiku, Where Rain Would Stay, published by Snapshot Press. We have not included any of the haiku from that collection, except for the title poem of this edition.

To select additional haiku not featured in To Hear the Rain or Where Rain Would Stay, we re-read journals, anthologies and articles featuring Lyle’s haiku. We are so grateful for Peggy’s colleague and co-editor at The Heron’s Nest, John Stevenson, for his encouragement to complete this new edition and for writing a wonderful preface.

~ Randy & Shirley Brooks, Editors
   Taylorville, Illinois
   April 9, 2023

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From the Author's Preface:

Sometimes we say too much. Words get in the way. Abstractions cloak perceptions and dull communication about real things. No wonder haiku are so popular all around the world. Brief and immediate they compress significant observations, experiences, and insights into images that engage the senses and feelings. I think of them as open-ended and open-handed poems, capable of receiving, being, and giving all at once. Expressed in simple language, they invite the reader to participate as co-creator. Sometimes they seem to leap from heart to heart.

Like the great epics, haiku always begin “in the middle of things.” Unlike other literature, they stop in the space of a human breath, forming vibrant crystals ready to reactivate the tones of a moment’s experience. A good haiku offers just enough words, just the right words, to recreate the essence of a specific time and place and hold it permanently available. If tingles of heightened awareness inform the poet and the moment, they are likely to excite similar responses in a receptive reader, so that the haiku expands and resonates.

~ Peggy Lyles
   May 27, 2002

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lightning flash
the brass quintet
tuning up

yellow leaves
a girl plays hopscotch
by herself

attic sun
from Grandmother’s gown
a grain of rice

Indian summer
a turtle on a turtle
on a rock

sunlit reeds—
a dragonfly thumps
my third eye

some question marks
on the treble clef —
spring rain

hard green peaches —
a list of things
not to do


into the afterlife red leaves

~ Peggy Lyles

I think it is natural, after a poet has died, to read their poems differently. We all know that we are mortal and this knowledge is always somewhere in our poetry. But, since we also tend to deny what we know, this knowledge can seem suddenly more prominent after death has taken the poet. So far as I know, the monoku quoted above was not intended as a jisei — a death poem ... All the same, I have come to think of it in this way.

And now I also think of it as perfectly emblematic of this extension of her selected haiku. The autumn leaves, in the last phase of their lives, present us with a final flair of warm colors. These late poems of Peggy Willis Lyles do the same thing for this reader.

~ John Stevenson
Managing Editor, The Heron's Nest

How would I want you to read these pieces of the story of my life?



More than once.

Preferably aloud.

Above all, I want you to read them with assurance of their essential honesty, and faith that what you find in them is what they mean and are. I hope the poems link to your sensory perceptions and affirm a connection between what Robert Frost called inner and outer weather. I hope they touch your sense of wonder, stirring responses that make the sharing mutual. I hope they spark the desire, new or renewed, to write and share your own haiku.

~ Peggy Lyles
   May 27, 2002


Preface by John Stevenson


To Hear the Rain (2002)
Author’s Preface
Preface by Christopher Herold
About the Author
Interview with the Author

Red Leaves (2023)
About the Author
Publication Credits
Literary Awards


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