Global Haiku Tradition
Millikin University, Spring 2002

by Kay Millikin



Francine Porad and Peggy Lyles

The reason that I choose to compare Francine Porad and Peggy Lyles is because they are both older women who incorporate nature in their writing. Francine and Peggy have a lot of similarities in their writing style. The cycle of life is something representative in both of their perspectives of writing. As I have shown in many of my haiku a person who deeply touched my life was my Grandmother. She instilled in me a love for flowers and gardening. These issues are often written about in these women’s work. Francine and Peggy are both talented writers.

Peggy Willis Lyles was born September 17, 1939, in Summerville, South Carolina. She earned her B.A. degree from Columbia College in South Carolina and an M.A. in English from Tulane University. She taught at High Point College in North Carolina, and she also taught at University of Georgia. She edited the Georgia poetry journal for five years. She now lives in Atlanta where she enjoys the country.

Francine Porad lives in Seattle, Washington where she not only writes haiku but where she also paints. She is the former president of the Haiku Society of America. She also edited BRUSSEL SPROUT, which is an international journal of haiku and art. Francine did this for eight years. Her ability to capture readers from all walks of life is why she has published work in countries all over the world including U.S., Canada, England, Croatia, Australia, Romania and Japan. Her work is in many anthologies, including HAIKU MOMENT (Charles E Tuttle, 1993) and HAIKU WORLD: An International Poetry Almanac (Kodansha, 1996). Francine donates her time to help others by lecturing and presenting haiku. She not only writes but also has juried many national and international haiku, senryu, and tanka competitions.

Before researching haiku written by older women, I wondered why flowers fascinated so many older women. I now realize that older women not only appreciate the beauty of the flowers, but also feel like the flowers are a reflection of how they feel inside. Now I see that is a reflection of what they truly see inside themselves. Externally they may not have the beauty that they once had when they were younger but inside they are the same beautiful person.
The first haiku that I will compare both involve the cycle of life while incorporating the life that nature brings.

wearing the first bloom
of the camellia tree
the old woman

Francine Porad

small talk . . .
snap beans.

Peggy Lyles

As stated before, they both show the cycle of life but they state it in different ways. Peggy shows the cycle by using the relationship of a mother and daughter. Francine shows the cycle by comparing the dieing of an old woman and the beginning of the flower. Peggy also uses punctuation to illustrate her haiku whereas Francine does not. Even though they address similar issues in their writing, they have differences in expressing them. Snap beans goes along with the small talk that the mother and daughter are engaging in. My mother and I start talking with short fast syllables and I think the word snap beans are supposed to capture that type of gossip. Francine writes with delicate words that give the reader a beautiful image. Peggy is more blunt and to the point. She at times uses harsh words whereas Francine does not.

The second set of haiku that I compared both incorporate some type of opposite elements.

country garden
bordered with railroad ties
end to end

Francine Porad

through a crowded room
the scent
of one fresh rose

Peggy Lyles

The contrasting element from Francine’s poem is the topic of country and city. Both subjects can be viewed as a positive thing. In Peggy’s haiku she gives a visual of cluttered (which would be viewed as ugly) and scent of a rose (which is something beautiful). Francine’s gives a visual of no boundaries which, gives the reader a feeling of freedom. Peggy using the word cluttered gives the reader a feeling of confinement. Once again Francine keeps her ongoing theme of beauty, while Peggy words give a more harsh feeling.

The reason that I matched the next haiku together is because they both talked about the weather affecting the flowers. I also see this as a way to express what people go through. The flowers represent the people and the weather being the adversity that must be overcome daily.

holding its arch
windless cold

Francine Porad

a breeze
that whispers leaf to lead . . .
morning glories close

Peggy Lyles

Both these haiku make an emotional statement of strength. However, Francine’s is more obvious. Holding its arch shows that the leaf is using all of its strength to hold on to life and weather the cold. Many times we see this in real life with people. When I was a young girl my babysitter made us go to the nursing home and visit people that were ill. I think of these people when I read this haiku. Their will power was the only thing that allowed them to live a normal life. Simple things such as walking, eating takes all of their strength to do.

Overall I think that both these women give a perspective that everyone can benefit from reading. Often in our society the elderly people are not well respected. They are viewed as a financial drain to economy. Our society forgets to remember that America is what it is today because of their help. Their haiku gives us an appreciation for that stage of life.

I enjoyed Francine’s haiku because of her delicate phrasing. Her delicate phrasing helped emphasize the beauty of flowers. Peggy’s greatest strength in my opinion is her use of punctuation to illustrate her main points. I wish that I had researched these women while my grandmother was alive, so I could have understood her better. In some ways I feel like I can now know what to expect in different stages of my life. I felt like I could look at the world from the perspective of them due to their excellent way of writing.

—Kay Millikin

©2002 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors