Eva Tihanyi’s Circle Tour. a review by Anne Sorbie

Circle Tour is a like a reflection in lake water; something so beautiful that you wish you could hold on to it, mercurial as it may be.

On these pages Eva Tihanyi offers a bounteous continuation of the language and imagery of the Romantics; and hers is a potent lyrical poetry. At the same time, this collection, is quite literally, one woman’s observations and introspections during the pandemic.

We are shown histories, celebrations, the new normal. The darkness and the growing light that penetrates after it exhausts itself. Meditations, incantations, contemplations. Every one of them beyond wonderful. Each written in such a way that the book insists we hold it, consider its pages, and stay. Once I did close the covers, I felt a lingering desire to return to the words that are drawn so strikingly between them. I felt acutely, the pull and float of a spiral, its way of positioning us in that which is universal. Within hope. Within optimism. Within every aspect of love. Because, at the cellular level Tihanyi’s collection is experiential. Her language, precisely focused.

The poems in Circle Tour are offered in sections: Outer, Inner, and Centre. So that we journey with the poet, universally, personally, and intimately, until ultimately, we are linked to (ways of) being, and to the very essence of “I am.”

We are with her in the natural world – and by that I mean deeply inside the elemental and organic ‘places’ she / we turn to instinctively. Witnessing all the while, anger, loss, and. The inevitability of our own beautiful fate. Until we reach the most unsettling of concepts: the unbearable lightness of being (Kundera) and the ideas that all is ephemeral, that nothing is fixed.

Circle Tour begins in the Outer circle with “Hope,” and with these two lines: ‘If you’re reading this / you’re still here.’ The language is direct and at the same time it begins a rhetoric of metaphorical and literal expectation, of anticipation, of optimism, moving us forward with the speaker while questioning what we see and understand. “The Eye Is The First Circle,” begins with this stanza:

            In time we confront

            the circle of our story—

            or is it a spiral…?        (4)

And already Tihanyi’s collection touches the philosophical and the ideas of wholeness, spiritual development, and our connection to that which we identify as universal. In “The Given,” the speaker says, ‘In the beginning there is always a road / but all roads end, and time owes us nothing’ (5). The weight of the words is immediate, and the reader understands that there is nothing sure in this world.

Each poem in Circle Tour is an erudite offering, an accomplished work, which is imbued with significant meaning and with a linguistic power that evokes and provokes feeling and thought. Tihanyi is working in the tradition of Keats and Wordsworth, Blake, and the Shelleys in ways that are sometimes forgotten in conversations about poetry and poetics. Her “Eclipse,” is absolutely beautiful and shows us how ‘The world turns its eyes / to the heavens’ (6), yet  just a page later, “A Hellish Season,” ends with the question: ‘What wreckage did you win?” (7).

Tihanyi’s experience of, and response to the pandemic, to uncertainty, and to death is clear in poems like “Resistance,” “Do You Know,” “Celebration,” “The New Normal,” and “Don’t Look Back.” While poems such as “Spring Meditation,” “Here,” and “Summer Reprieve” turn us to nature, to contemplation, and to the kind of slow thoughts isolation has inspired in us during the last few years. In “Experienced Music” we understand the results of anger and frustration in the line, ‘You bay at the world as if it were the moon” (32).

The Outer section refers to Keats, Janis Joplin, Rose-Aimee Belanger, Marina Abramovic, Lisa Brice, and Gloria Steinem ending with the poem, “Despite Everything” and the idea that “Despite everything / we’ll keep going” (44).

The next section titled, Inner moves us to the personal, to thoughts of those lost and those held closely and so warmly loved. “December” is written in memory of Luciana Ricciutelli and will no doubt remind many of her voice and her words. Especially on this line: ‘Dear hearts, keep writing’ (48). So fitting too that “Courage” follows and that other pieces in this section focus on both death and on the act of writing. Later, in “My Mother Annotates a Book of My Poetry” the poet shares finding her mother’s ‘penciled underlining’ in a book, which ‘speaks like a code’ (56). That gorgeous poem took this reviewer to small moments of remembering, to memories of finding her own dead and dear mother’s pencilled stories.

The living also have a place here and in the long poem, “Conversations with My Son,” Tihanyi’s roles as keeper of histories and truths, parent and scribe, show themselves brilliantly through transparent language and acute honesty.  She quotes and echoes Whitman with, ‘There will never be any more perfection / than there is now,’ (61) and when she goes on to remind her son and us that in ‘each day we must be / lucid with mutiny against despair’ (62) we are brought again to that idea of the spiral. To our whirling connections, whether emotional, psychological or physical, to all that ailed us in this recently infected world, which still challenges and frightens us with its unbalanced landscape.

In “Broken,” “Indifference,” in “Return,” and in “Acknowledgement,” we feel the incredible reach of love, and once again alongside it, the unsettling and unsettled way we must live as we go forward. 

The Inner section concludes with a piece called, “What Is True,” and the rich imagery of kind offerings between human beings that focus on ‘certain beauty,’ ‘recklessness / and a gracious trust that doesn’t diminish’ (70) the best of us. That is, what we are born to be and to do naturally.

The final section, Centre, goes deeper and brings all that sweetens the pages before it together in a gorgeous ‘Tourniquet that keeps blood in,’ in a  ‘torque that drives the flow,’  a ‘Glorious paradox,’ a ‘still force’ (75). In this poem, titled “Poetry,” and those that speak after it, like “Beauty in Isolation,” and “Portrait of the Poet as a Young Girl,” Tihanyi’s rhetoric ‘fold[s] in and in,’ ‘fills / the pages with serious joy, / [the] black ink of I am’ (76).

Circle Tour remains, as this reviewer was given to believe at the start, a rhetoric of metaphorical and literal expectation, of anticipation, of optimism. In Centre the poet who speaks so eloquently, so beautifully, ‘is unbound and determined,’ and is one who ‘will not be cajoled out of poetry’ (77). I believe Tihanyi’s words speak for many of us. And nowhere is this truer than in “The Story,” which begins

            You wake up knowing

            there’s a story that has chosen you:

            your mouth, your words.


            It assigns

            and expects you to deliver.

And which continues a few stanzas later with…

            It wants you

            to articulate the impossible:

            the inflections of shimmering,

            the dark universe

            before it ignited into stars. (79)

The poems in, Center, that lead us to “Spiral,” the collection’s final piece, are elementally and organically of Tihanyi, and at the same time, universal in their reach.

Johanna Skibsrud says on the cover, “This is a collection that challenges us to rethink the nature and potential of lyric poetry.” Circle Tour does exactly that in the exquisite verses of Eva Tihanyi.

Return to Journal

Anne Sorbie is a Calgary writer and editor who has published four books, the most recent of which is the anthology, (M)othering. She lives on the edge of a windy northwest hill with a long view. 

WordCity Literary Journal is provided free to readers from all around the world, and there is no cost to writers submitting their work. Substantial time and expertise goes into each issue, and if you would like to contribute to those efforts, and the costs associated with maintaining this site, we thank you for your support.


Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: