To Hear the Rain:
Selected Haiku of Peggy Lyles

edited by Randy M . Brooks


Peggy Lyles.
To Hear the Rain: Selected Haiku of Peggy Lyles
© 2002. Clothbound, (5.5" X 8.5") 128 pages.
ISBN: 0-929820-03-8 / $22 USA (plus $3.00 postage)

A great number of Peggy Lyles’ poems frame rich and timeless fragments of life, depicting moments that are the precious heritage of generation after generation. Often, when I read Peggy’s haiku, time seems to stand still in a scene that will be as true tomorrow as it was a hundred years ago.

autumn sea
a little girl’s love
of small brown shells

I brush
my mother’s hair
the sparks

lap of waves
my daughter molds a castle
for her son

Many of her poems about mothers and children exemplify this quality, poems such as “autumn sea,” “I brush,” “lap of waves,” and “mother-daughter.”

This brief verse contains whole lifetimes of small talk—queries, confidences, and wise truths shared between mothers and daughters:

mother-daughter
small talk . . .
snap beans

The act of snapping beans in the company of women has therapeutic value that cannot be found in any pill. Women know this. On the porch or in a sunny kitchen, we accomplish this satisfying chore with smooth, automatic movements, while sharing the joys and grievances of the week with someone who knows exactly what we’re talking about, ready with cheers or sound advice or quiet contemplation. As we work and talk, we may throw the discarded stems onto a spread newspaper and drop the cool, green, snapped pieces with pale bean tips gleaming at the ends into the crockery bowls, with an occasional pause to fetch more beans or to drive home a point.

Ah. The familiar crisp scent and steady snap, snap, snap of fresh, tightly closed bean pods passing through quick fingers, a murmured question, a woman’s warm laughter—suddenly it is very real; the moment becomes mine as I recognize my daughter, myself, my mother, my grandmother. This is Peggy’s gift to us, brighter and more lasting than any photograph. —Ferris Gilli

ISBN: 0-929820-03-8
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boarding call
the ripe banana flavor
of the small one's cheek

into the night
we talk of human cloning
          snowflakes

traffic jam
my small son asks
who made God

moon
and melon cooling
with us in the stream

About the Author:

Peggy Willis Lyles was born in Summerville, South Carolina, on September 17, 1939. She died in Tucker, Georgia on September 3, 2010. A former Enlgish professor, she was a leading haiku writer for over 30 years—helping bring many readers and writers into the haiku community. Her voice and guidance will be missed in the community, but we know that her haiku will continue to touch so many souls in the future.

Reading Cor van den Heuvel’s The Haiku Anthology, first edition, convinced her of the freshness, sparkle, and value of English-language haiku. Since the late 1970’s her work was published regularly in leading journals in the United States and abroad. She received awards from Modern Haiku, Wind Chimes, Woodnotes, Mayfly,The Heron’s Nest, the Haiku Society of America, the Museum of Haiku Literature, Snapshot Press, the Mainichi Daily News, Japan Airlines, the New Zealand Poetry Society, the Suruga Baika Literary Festival, The People’s Poetry Newsletter, Haiku Poets of Northern California, the World Haiku Club, and other publications and organizations. She judged competitions for the Haiku Society of America, the North Carolina Haiku Association, the Poetry Society of Georgia, the Tallahassee Writer’s Association, and other groups.

Beginning with the September 2002 issue, Lyles was an associate editor of the on-line and print journal, The Heron’s Nest, and she served as a member of the editorial board for several of the most recent annual Red Moon Press anthologies.

A long-term member of the Haiku Society of America and a founding member of Pinecone, the North Georgia Haiku Society, she read her poetry at Haiku Chicago 1995; the Global Haiku Festival, Millikin University 2000; and Haiku North America, Boston 2001; as well as in classrooms, bookstores, and clubrooms.

Comments from previous reviews and editors:

From the Preface: Are you an old hand at English language haiku? Well-versed in its history and literature? Aware of the myriad debates about what makes a haiku a haiku? Or are you a relative newcomer to this unique form of expression, impressed by the way so few words convey so much vitality? Intuiting that there is much more to be discovered beneath the surface of words? Experienced or not, I feel certain that you’ll be smitten by what you find in this magnificent collection, selected from among the many poems written by Peggy Willis Lyles during the past twenty-five years. So, forget what you know; don’t worry about what you don’t know. Simply immerse yourself in these vibrant moments.

Peggy Lyles is one of our most highly regarded English language haiku poets, and for good reason. She is finely attuned to her surroundings, and when she gives expression to her experiences of the world around her, she is utterly honest. As I read her poems I know full well that there is no contrivance, that I have not been manipulated. Lyles doesn’t pad her haiku with unnecessary words, nor does she strip them down to the point of being inaccessible. She sustains her focus on the experiences that inspire her, thereby gaining better understanding of them. When it comes time to translate those experiences into poems, she finds uncomplicated words and natural syntax to reveal her discoveries as clearly as possible. —Christopher Herold, founding editor, Heron's Nest

“You certainly have a wonderful body of poems, Peggy, and they remind me of Charles Dickson for their evocation of a place, of people keenly set in place. Your haiku gently touch on the best of times and honor the way time moves, but in our hearts a depth of feeling for what we love remains simply clear and still.” —Tom Clausen


See some additional reviews.

Other collections of Peggy Lyle's haiku include:

Red Leaves in the Air
(High/Coo Press, 1979)

Still at the Edge
(Swamp Press, 1980)

Prisms
(a Wind Chimes Haiku Sheet, 1986)

Thirty-Six Tones
(Saki Press, 2001)a Virgil Hutton haiku chapbook award book for 2000-2001