Ormsby, Frank 1947-

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ORMSBY, Frank 1947-

PERSONAL: Born October 30, 1947, in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland; son of Patrick and Anne Jane (McMahon) Ormsby; married Mary Elizabeth McCaffrey, 1968; children: Paula, Sean. Education: Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, B.A., 1970, M.A., 1971.

ADDRESSES: Home—70 Eglantine Ave., Belfast BT9 6DY, Northern Ireland.

CAREER: Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Belfast, Northern Ireland, teacher of English, 1971—.

AWARDS, HONORS: Eric Gregory Award, 1974; Cultural Traditions Award, 1992; Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry, University of St. Thomas at St. Paul, MN, 2002.


Ripe for Company (poems), Ulsterman Publications (Belfast, Northern Ireland), 1971.

Business as Usual (poems), Ulsterman Publications (Belfast, Northern Ireland), 1973.

A Store of Candles (poems), Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1977.

Being Walked by a Dog (poems), Ulsterman Publications (Belfast, Northern Ireland), 1978.

(Editor) Poets from the North of Ireland, Blackstaff Press (Belfast, Northern Ireland), 1979.

A Northern Spring (poems), Secker & Warburg/Gallery Press (London, England), 1986.

(Editor) Northern Windows: An Anthology of Ulster Autobiography, Blackstaff Press (Belfast, Northern Ireland), 1987.

(Editor) The Long Embrace: Twentieth Century Irish Love Poems, Blackstaff Press (Belfast, Northern Ireland), 1987.

Thine in Storm and Calm: An Amanda McKittrick Ros Reader, Blackstaff Press (Belfast, Northern Ireland), 1988.

(Editor) The Collected Poems of John Hewitt, Blackstaff Press (Belfast, Northern Ireland), 1991.

(Editor) A Rage for Order: Poetry of the Northern Ireland Troubles, Blackstaff Press (Belfast, Northern Ireland), 1992.

The Ghost Train, Gallery Books (Oldcastle, Co. Meath, Ireland), 1995.

The Hip Flask: Short Poems from Ireland, Blackstaff Press (Belfast, Northern Ireland), 2000.

Editor of Honest Ulsterman, 1969-89.

SIDELIGHTS: Poet Frank Ormsby is known for his observant eye, which he brings to bear on topics ranging from small events in daily life to the decades of political strife in Northern Ireland, where he lives. Marriage and parenthood also frequently serve as subjects for his work. His language is not showy, but has instead some of the attributes of everyday speech, "especially clarity and particularity," according to a writer for Contemporary Poets. "Ormsby has a determined faithfulness to his subjects that almost entails a rejection of what used to be called 'verbal magic.' Individual poems yield up their attractions reluctantly. Nevertheless, a personality emerges from the composite, certainly dour and grimly honest, but refreshingly so." In his collection, A Store of Candles, Ormsby considered the litter found underneath a stairway and the ways it illustrates the life lived by the occupant of the house. Ormsby's collection, A Northern Spring, is made up mostly of soliloquies and lyrics set in the voices of American soldiers during World War II. The Ghost Train, showcases his "strong and certain voice," wrote Patricia Monaghan in Booklist. She rated Ormsby's poems about fatherhood as some of the best in contemporary writing, calling them "tender but never sentimental." The Contemporary Poets reviewer also pointed out the "unexpected tenderness" in this volume and concluded that he is responsible for "an impressive body of work." In addition to writing his own verse, Ormsby has also edited noteworthy collections such as A Rage for Order: Poetry of the Northern Ireland Troubles, which Boyd Tonkin in New Statesman & Society recommended as perhaps "the most impressive modern verse anthology in English for many years."



Contemporary Poets, 7th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.


Booklist, February 1, 1997, Patricia Monaghan, review of The Ghost Train, p. 921.

New Statesman & Society, March 12, 1993, Boyd Tonkin, review of A Rage for Order: Poetry of the Northern Ireland Troubles, p. 41.

Publishers Weekly, March 2, 1992, review of The Collected Poems of John Hewitt, p. 53.

Times Literary Supplement, February 15, 1980, November 21, 1986.

World Literature Today, autumn, 1993, Kieran Quinlan, review of The Collected Poems of John Hewitt, p. 827.*