Frank Ormsby's The Rain Barrel: Interviews, Reviews & Books of the Year

Frank Ormsby's The Rain Barrel: Interviews, Reviews & Books of the Year

A month after having been named the eighth  Ireland Professor of Poetry, Northern Irish poet Frank Ormsby bought out his seventh poetry collection, The Rain Barrel (Bloodaxe, 2019). Frank Ormsby's three year term as Ireland Professor of Poetry ended on 31 October 2022.  Paul Muldoon has been named as the ninth Professor of Poetry.

The Rain Barrel reflects not only the beauty of the Irish landscape and the sensuous and aesthetic impact of the small farms among which he grew up, but also the continuing violence of the 'Troubles'. Close to the surface of mountain and bogland lie the hidden graves of the 'Disappeared'.

Frank Ormsby's 2015 retrospective Goat's Milk: New & Selected Poems was shortlisted for the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Literary Prize. It was followed by The Darkness of Snow in 2017, a  Poetry Book Recommendation in the UK and shortlisted for the National Book Circle Critics’ Prize in the US, (Wake Forest University Press). WFU also published The Rain Barrel in March 2020.

The Darkness of Snow includes a sequence of poems about living with Parkinson's. Frank was interviewed by Marie-Louise Muir about this sequence for the BBC Radio 4 feature The Art of Living: Frank Ormsby: listen here.



The Poetry Programme, RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday 16 May 2021, 7.30pm

Frank Ormsby was interviewed down the line from Belfast for The Poetry Programme on 16 May.  He was talking to Olivia O'Leary about his inaugural lecture as Ireland Professor of Poetry, which was recorded at Queen’s University Belfast, and which covers his time as editor of the poetry journal The Honest Ulsterman.

Frank also spoke in detail about his seventh collection The Rain Barrel, and read four poems from the book: ‘We Acquire the Rain Barrel’ and ‘The Rain Barrel and the Sparrows’ from the title sequence, as well as ‘Winter Landscape with Searchers’ and ‘Wake in Progress’.

Listen here.  Frank is introduced at 13:45.

'The Honest Ulsterman Revisited' was released as a film on Friday 21 May at 1pm:

Frank Ormsby's term as Ireland Professor of Poetry ended on 31 October 2022.  Paul Muldoon has been named as the ninth Professor of Poetry.



Ireland Cultural Centre, London, film premiered 2 May 2021, 2pm

Frank Ormsby in conversation with Anne Morrison

A fifty-minute conversation between Anne Morrison and Frank Ormsby, Ireland Professor of Poetry.  As part of this wide-ranging discussion, Frank read a few poems from his most recent books The Rain Barrel, The Darkness of Snow and Goat's Milk: New & Selected Poems.




The Rain Barrel was reviewed twice in The Irish Times. It was included in Sean Hewitt's monthly poetry round-up of 4 April 2020, and Emmanuel Touhey's feature review ran on 20 January.

‘The poems in Frank Ormsby’s seventh collection, The Rain Barrel, treat familiar objects with a slant charm, giving them histories, personalities, and minds of their own…The cadences of Ormsby’s verse create a subtle music, and (though he rarely uses set forms in this collection) makes use of rhyme that brings out the distinct accent of his poetry.’ – Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times

Review available in full by subscription here.

‘In confronting Northern Ireland’s violent past amidst its seemingly idyllic setting, Ormbsy has successfully managed to convey not just the individual personal cost, but also the depth of the communal loss… This honest Ulsterman is not afraid to challenge us, but he also gives us comfort.’ - Emmanuel Touhey, The Irish Times

Emmanuel Touhey's online feature review is here.



‘Frank Ormsby’s latest collection, The Rain Barrel, is one of his finest and follows on from a hugely creative few years – a volume of new and selected poems, Goat’s Milk (2015) and the complexly challenging The Darkness of Snow (2017) – both from Bloodaxe. Ormsby has just been named Ireland Professor of Poetry (2019-22), succeeding Eilean Ni Chuilleanain.’ – Gerald Dawe, The Lonely Crowd (Books of the Year 2019)

‘One of the happiest events of the year was the elevation of Fermanagh poet Frank Ormsby to the post of Ireland Professor of Poetry.  His latest book, The Rain Barrel, has been hailed as containing some of his best work.’ Damian Smyth, Belfast Telegraph (Best Books by Northern Irish Writers 2019)

The Director of West Cork Literary Festival Eimear O'Herhily recommended Frank Ormsby's The Rain Barrel on The Arts House, Cork's 96FM (The Definitive Christmas Book List).  Very sadly, the festival has had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, so Frank won't now be reading there in July 2020.

'The real surprise with Ormsby is that it's full of subtle provocation. He does really unflinching work.. there are several poems about the disappeared, and he cannot leave them to be forgotten - I really admire him for that.' - Colm Keegan, speaking on RTE Radio 1's Arena (Poetry books of 2019) on The Rain Barrel


Frank Ormsby recorded his poem 'The Butterfly House' from The Rain Barrel for The New Yorker.  You can listen to Frank read the poem here.

[15 April 2020]

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