Frank Ormsby was born in 1947 in Enniskillen and educated at Queen's University, Belfast. He was head of English at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution from 1976 until 2010. As editor of The Honest Ulsterman magazine for twenty years and editor of a number of influential anthologies, such as Poets from the North of Ireland (1979) and A Rage for Order: Poetry of the Northern Ireland Troubles (1992), he was a central figure in the burgeoning of Ulster poetry since the 1960s. In 1991, he edited The Collected Poems of John Hewitt and in 2007, with Michael Longley, Hewitt's Selected Poems. He has also published eight collections of poems, most recently Goat's Milk: New and Selected Poems (2015), The Darkness of Snow (2017), and The Rain Barrel (2019). His first two books, A Store of Candles (1977) and A Northern Spring (1986) were Poetry Book Society Choices. He was editor, with Leontia Flynn, of the poetry magazine The Yellow Nib. He was the Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2019‐2022.
In The World Unmade Frank Ormsby explores the poetic diversity of Northern Ireland, with a particular focus on the poetry of the Troubles. He draws on his own experience as editor of a literary magazine and a number of anthologies. He also explores the structuring of his next collection, The Tumbling Paddy, which extends the range of his most recent poems. He retains a sharp eye for the absurdities and fragilities of history, as well as its impact on the present.
The Ireland Chair of Poetry was established in 1998 following the award of the Nobel Prize of Literature to Seamus Heaney and is supported by Queen's University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Arts Council 1/An Chomhairle Ealaion. Other poets in the series include Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, John Montague, Paul Durcan, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Michael Longley, Harry Clifton and Paula Meehan.
‘There are some poems that come out almost fully formed, but there are others that I have struggled with, and still more that eventually spring from a single line or image that I have stored away.’ - RTÉ Culture, 8 November 2023. Read the full extract here.