Flying Underwater: Poems New and Selected
by Eva Tihanyi

240 Pages
September 01, 2012
Poetry All Titles



Flying Underwater: Poems New and Selected by Eva Tihanyi

Anne Michaels calls Eva Tihanyi's poetry "moving and powerful." Susan Musgrave calls it "very accomplished, beautifully crafted." Now, almost 30 years after her first book was published in 1983 comes Tihanyi's latest collection, Flying Under Water: Poems New and Selected, which brings together the best of her previous six volumes plus a group of new poems.

The book is edited by Patricia Keeney and introduced by J.S. Porter, who writes: "Tihanyi gives you desire in all its permutations, love in all its dimensions, in all its colours from green to black; she gives you lust and longing, departures, arrivals, and new beginnings. She investigates the possibility and limitations, of truth. She re-choreographs worn moves in the ever-new dance of language."

Flying Under Water: Poems New and Selected

Eva Tihanyi was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1956, and came to Canada when she was six. She has taught at Niagara College since 1989 and lives in Toronto and Port Dalhousie (St. Catharines, Ontario). Flying Underwater: Poems New and Selected is her seventh book of poetry; she has also published a short story collection, Truth and Other Fictions (Inanna, 2009). Tihanyi, who has been writing poetry since the age of fourteen, long ago took to heart Adrienne Rich's words, "I will submit to whatever poetry is," and continues to view the world through that lens. Visit her website <>.

Herizons Summer 2013
Reviewed by Mariianne Mays Wiebe

"Another outstanding offering is Flying Underwater by Eva Tihanyi, a collection of the poet’s work from previous books along with some new poems. Tihanyi’s poetry is often wise, with lines you want to read aloud in order to savour both their wisdom and their beauty. Her keen eye (she also practices photography) is attuned to the dance of desire, vulnerability and need in relationships. The poems in the section taken from her 1995 book, Saved by the Telling, are particularly satisfying, several of them broaching art and its significance for our daily lives and for making meaning, and shape, of them. One dazzling poem is from the perspective of Picasso’s mistress—an artist in her own right—Dora Marr, who reappears in the new poems. The poem “Picasso Meets Dora Marr at Les Deux Magots” is impossible to quote in part. It is followed by another stunning poem about an artist, this one about Sylvia Plath, called “Breakthrough.” In the section from Wrestling the Grace of the World (2005), the poem “My Heart Hears You Dreaming” is so devastatingly unguarded, gorgeous and still that it reads like an ancient lyric: “Years pass but I do find you;/ your open self is still my fate,/ such joy your mouth is speaking.” It ends with these lines: “Yet despite the journey I have made,/ the music weakens,/ the distance is not receding.// And within the silence that is love,/ my heart hears you leaving.” Recognizable truths leap up everywhere in Tihanyi’s poetry, and words from a poem titled “Inventing the future” could easily describe the collection: “I have been lashed by grace. This is/ a new way of being in the world.” The lines are introduced by ones that situate that “way of being” in time and space: “What doesn’t break us binds us.// March again. The earth softens/ as spring lays its green foundations./ Never the same spring twice,/ never the same March.” “The End of Something,” in the same section of poems from The Key of Red (2010), is the final remarkable poem I will mention, one thst again seems to speak from the depths of perception to the universal, conveying this insight: “Poetry is the language of believing in language./ What we look at deeply, enters us.”


She is her own paradox
by Cheryl Clock, St. Catharines Standard - January 2, 2013

In many ways, 56-year-old Eva Tihanyi — the little girl from Hungary who couldn’t speak a word of English in Grade 2, the woman who majored in English just to spite the kids who teased her, the teacher, the poet, the writer — in many ways she enjoys the surface contradiction that is herself.

Inside, however, there’s a deeper truth.

Her life as a writer took shape through a series of conspiring events. Was she born or made a writer? She often wonders.

On this day, Tihanyi the Niagara College teacher has been marking final projects in her Port Dalhousie condo since 4 a.m. She has escaped (happily) for a coffee to talk about a project of her own — Flying Underwater, Poems New and Selected (Inanna Publications, $18.95) — a collection of nearly 200 poems, her “greatest hits” of sorts.

Some have called her poetry lyrical grace. A dance of language. Tihanyi sees the world through metaphors. Likes juxtapositions of strange things. And she rejoices a good paradox.

Indeed, the very title of her book is a clever contradiction. “We all fly underwater,” she says.

Read: We can all be free despite the inevitable obstacles of life.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, Tihanyi just six months old when her engineer parents immigrated to Canada. Tihanyi was raised by her grandparents until she came to Canada at age six, not speaking any English.

Through public school, she was bullied and teased for her poor language skills. In retrospect, her ambition to major in English, was likely a unconscious desire to prove them wrong, she says.

A determination fueled by: “I will learn the language better than anyone who lives here,” she says.

“I’ll have better grammar than you can ever dream.”

She was 14 when her parents took her on a six-week holiday to Europe. She returned, saturated with culture, and took her first creative writing class.

Since then, she’s explored writing in all its forms. Journalism. Fiction. Prose. She came to poetry through the nonsensical, whimsical rhymes of Dr. Seuss. Cat in the Hat is her favourite (Green Eggs and Ham a close second).

She enjoys the intensity of poetry. The musicality of words. “I’m aware of the sound of words. The consonants, the alliteration, all the ways words come together and flow.

“An artist plays with colours and different brushes and strokes. For me, words have that quality.”

Her grandmother, who also immigrated to Canada without so much as a word of English (Tihanyi would feed her Margaret Atwood poetry translated to Hungarian), was her biggest cheerleader.

“She encouraged my crazy wild dreams,” she says.

Her poetry is not autobiographical. Yet, she adds with a smile: “I don’t do that let’s-pretend-they’re-not-about-me thing,” she says.

In My Grandmother’s Gloves, she writes about her grandmother’s “flamboyant orange” gloves that I cannot bear to part with. For when I slip my hands into them, I am held, perfectly.

In Pier’s End — one of her newer poems, many of which are based in Port Dalhousie — she takes the reader on a serene walk to the end of the pier, then surprises them with a final thought: A cry of the unsafe heart, gnawed by its own wild teeth.

Tihanyi begins her poems in long hand. Written on paper with the smoothness of a fine-tip black gel pen. She transfers them to her computer only to adjust the spacing and stanzas.

She will next work on a short novel. But poetry will always be a part of her. Her own personal paradox.

“It’s just my way of being in the world,” she says.

“Poems would not exist without the life.”

My Grandmother’s Gloves

Even her gloves revealed her: soft leather,

not a common black or ordinary brown

but a deep flamboyant orange,

the rust of late autumn, warm and supple.

They are the last things I have kept,

the final detritus after all the givings-away,

the ritual removals:

buttons in plastic pill containers,

assorted remnants of cloth,

zippers, needles, thread;

her clothes all gone,

her furniture distributed.

Left: these exuberant gloves

I cannot bear to part with.

For when I slip my hands into them,

I am held, perfectly.


Critical acclaim for Eva Tihanyi's previous poetry collections:

In the Key of Red:

"This is a moving and powerful book of honest tenderness; a book full of the clarity that flows when hope has been pierced by sorrow. These are poems that know exactly how close we hold each other when we are saying goodbye."
—Anne Michaels, author of Fugitive Pieces and The Winter Vault

"A moving and unflinching collection."
—Rishma Dunlop, author of White Album and Reading Like a Girl

"Tihanyi's poems sing of absence and yearning, the need for closeness struggling with the desire for personal space, those thorny contradictions of love, all bristle or quiver in Tihanyi's tight lyrics with an intensity that seduces the reader and resonates in both mind and body long after the last line."
—Glen Sorestad, Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan (2000-2004), author of Road Apples and What We Miss

Wresting the Grace of the World:

"Tihanyi's work is sharply focused and often insightful, like a photo taken at a revealing moment."
Toronto Star

Restoring the Wickedness: (shortlisted for the Niagara Book Award):

"This is a very accomplished, beautifully crafted collection of poems."
Susan Musgrave


Copyright © Inanna Publications. Site development by In the Lost and Found & Nicole Chung.