Not so much Provoked as Confused…

It is not always the fate of poetic works to become the next vaulted step on the path to higher enlightenment and that is unfortunately the case with Tanya Bailey’s Seemingly Provoked. The text holds some intriguing phrases, but overall lacks a conclusive path for readers to follow. Bailey tries to use a three chapter structure to give her work some kind of definition (and perhaps as homage to the haiku form she employs throughout), but the contents of those chapters feel unpolished.

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On nearly every page sit three haiku. At first glance of these poems seem to have no tangible connection to each other and the chapter titles aren’t much help in bringing them all together either. The first chapter is entitled “Learning,” but then nothing is taught to the readers. It doesn’t even appear that the speaker is learning anything. Statements about politics and the climate crisis are simply being made without context or emotional pull. But Bailey does have some interesting pieces like “Formalities”:

Traitors of practice

Randomness and Blasphemy

Nothing is ok

Her haiku may have been better served if she had segmented her work into more defined chapters so her readers could be immediately clued in to the over arching message of the poems.

Bailey is by no means opaque. She is clear in her condemnation of mass consumerism and her urge to protect the planet, but the poetry itself is, in totality, just fragments of poems. Her work reads like notes – as if these haiku are really just the inspiration for the full bodied text that is yet to be created. Bailey’s lines are full of active motion and brave intent; hopefully, Seemingly Provoked is only the precursor to greater works from her.

6 thoughts on “Not so much Provoked as Confused…

  1. I think your review of Seemingly Provoked is terrible. I am the owner of Barely Bruised Books in Ottawa and I not only sell books,I have been reviewing books of poetry for over 20 years among other genres. I also hold Open Mic !Poetry Nights where I give The Poet of the Night a $50 store credit and is chosen by the audience. I’m also a published poet.I know my poetry. Seemingly Provoked is not only provoking, her haiku style is an amazing accomplishment to the haiku poetry genre . Ive never seen so much anger towards the establishment and climate change captured in any style of poetry but Tanya Bailey does it 3 lines. Some of these haikus had so much power that I’d have to stop reading and contemplate for hours on how she managed to say so much in so few little words. I’ve reviewed novels and non-fiction that tried to capture that same anger in 500 pages but failed miserably. Tanya Bailey’s Seemingly Provoked is one of the best books of poetry I’ve read in years. Keep up the good fight Tanya! BIPOC writers are often feared when they are angry.Don’t let fear from others,especially reviewers, get you down. Tanya Bailey is the best emerging BIPOC poet in Canada, and maybe,the world. Please read Seemingly Provoked for yourself and then decide if I’m right.Keep up the good work Tanya Bailey! I hope to meet you someday.
    Scott at Barely Bruised Books

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Scott! Thank you for bringing an engaging argument to the table! As I’m sure you and I can both agree, poetry, like all art, is subjective. I’m glad that Seemingly Provoked spoke to you and stirred up this amount of passion! Clearly I am not so much a fan and have my own opinion but it always cheers me when I am reminded that the poetry world is not only still surviving but thriving with life. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this review.


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