Poetry Book Society Recommendation
The Darkness of Snow is Frank Ormsby's most varied and versatile collection to date. It includes three substantial sets of poems whose themes are refreshingly and sometimes painfully new. One is a suite of poems – sombre, good-humoured, flippant – about the early stages of Parkinson's Disease. Ormsby was diagnosed as having the disease in 2011. Another was prompted by the work of Irish painters in Normandy, Brittany and Belgium at the end of the 19th century.
There are also further explorations of his boyhood years in Fermanagh, while poems set in Belfast reflect the aftermath of the Troubles and celebrate the city's current phase of recovery and restoration. The book ends with a narrative poem about the trial of an unnamed tyrant in which we learn about the Accused (as he is called), about the villagers who have travelled to bear witness to the atrocities carried out in the village, and about one of the interpreters, who understands the slipperiness of Truth.
The Darkness of Snow covers work written since Frank Ormsby’s retrospective, Goat’s Milk: New & Selected Poems (2015). His broad range and eye for the particular combine to make this an exceptional collection.