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.
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.