Irish poet Frank Ormsby leaves audience laughing

Frank Ormsby, an Northern Ireland-born poet, shared his poem with UConn students at the B&N bookstore at the Storrs center on Tuesday night. (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus)

Frank Ormsby, an Northern Ireland-born poet, shared his poem with UConn students at the B&N bookstore at the Storrs center on Tuesday night. (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus)

Irish poet Frank Ormsby visited the UConn Bookstore at Storrs Center on Oct. 11 to give a reading of some of his tongue-in-cheek poetry.

Ormsby’s poetry explores themes such as religion, death, childhood, family and his experience with Parkinson’s disease.

Ormsby elicited giggles and sometimes full-on belly laughs from the audience of about 20 with his dry and, at times obscene, humor.

Ormsby read his poem “Altar Boy,” which details his experience as an altar boy when he was a child.

“Wedding tips could be persuaded with a discreet jingle/But funeral tips were almost secrets hoarded for rainy days/A christening did not require an altar boy/Christenings were, economically speaking, a dead loss,” Ormsby read as the audience filled with snickering.

Ormsby’s biggest laughs came at the end of his reading in response to “The Farmyard Haikus.” He focuses each haiku on a farm animal, giving each one a rude attitude.

“Balls the size of mine/Can only be compared to/Balls the size of mine,” Ormsby read as one of the haikus, getting loud laughter from his audience.

Ormsby read a few poems inspired by his living with Parkinson’s. He spoke in-between poems about how he found it difficult to decide how he should write about the disease.

Balls the size of mine/Can only be compared to/Balls the size of mine.
— Poet Frank Ormsby

“On one hand, you don’t want to be too somber and morose. On another hand, you don’t want to be flippant or too light-hearted about it,” Ormsby said.

Ormsby, who also lives with diabetes, read his poem, “Insulin Pen,” which he said is about how he imagines his insulin pen gets jealous when his Parkinson’s disease gets more attention.

“One of the first things I did when I was diagnosed was I looked up ‘jokes about Parkinson’s’ on the internet. Some of them are very good, I must say,” Ormsby said between poems.

Ormsby was the Head of English at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution for 24 years and also served as editor of “The Honest Ulsterman” for 20 years.


Schae Beaudoin is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at schae.beaudoin@uconn.edu.