Frank Ormsby was born in 1947, in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, and was educated at Queen's University in Belfast. Until 2010 he was Head of English at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. His latest collections are The Darkness of Snow (Bloodaxe Books, 2017), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, which was shortlisted for a National Book Circle Critics Award in the US, and The Rain Barrel (Bloodaxe Books, 2019). His retrospective Goat’s Milk: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2015), includes work from four previous collections, A Store of Candles (Oxford University Press, 1977), A Northern Spring (Secker & Warburg, 1986), The Ghost Train (Gallery Press, 1995) and Fireflies (Carcanet, 2009), together with new poems, and was shortlisted for the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Literary Prize.
He has edited a number of anthologies and other books, including Northern Windows: An Anthology of Ulster Autobiography (1987), Thine in Storm and Calm: An Amanda McKittrick Ros Reader (1988), The Collected Poems of John Hewitt (1991), and The Hip Flask: Short Poems from Ireland (2001), all from Blackstaff Press, and The Blackbird's Nest (2006), an anthology of poems from Queen's University, Belfast.
Frank Ormsby was editor of The Honest Ulsterman from 1969 to 1989, and has also edited Poetry Ireland Review. In 1992 he received the Cultural Traditions Award, given in memory of John Hewitt, and in 2002 the Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry from the University of St Thomas at St Paul, Minnesota. Frank Ormsby was guest of honour at BBC Proms in the Park 2017 at Castle Coole in Northern Ireland; actor Adrian Dunbar read two poems from Goat’s Milk: New & Selected Poems accompanied by the Ulster Orchestra and harpist Richard Allen in a specially commissioned work by Graeme Stewart. In 2018 Frank Ormsby collaborated with singer/songwriter Anthony Toner on an album The Kiss of Light. The album features recordings of Frank reading eleven of his own poems, with each reading followed by a short instrumental composed by Anthony Toner in response to the poems.
On 6 September 2019 Frank Ormsby was named the eighth Ireland Professor of Poetry. He served from 1 November 2019 until 31 October 2022. He has been succeeded by Paul Muldoon.
Author photo: Malachi O'Doherty
Books by Frank Ormsby