The origin of the list is in 2017, and began with one pamphlet, by Melissa Lee-Houghton, which I and ORB’s co-founder, Patrick Davidson Roberts, were lucky enough to read in manuscript form. We formed ORB in order to publish it, and then to publish other brilliant poetry we thought deserved to be out there. The list is named for the street we lived on during that first formative time.
After three years and ten more publications, and a brief hiatus to catch our breath, over summer this year we opened our reading window; now unfortunately closed again, we are currently reading through more than five hundred new submissions of poetry, essay and fiction, and finding wonderful things in there. In 2022 we’re hoping to publish a novel – watch this space. And we’ll continue to publish the best and boldest in new poetry. In the coming years we’re hoping to collaborate with other publishers, creating innovative crossover works, anthologies and hybrid events. If this year has shown us anything, is that we need to be able to adapt to a changing world. We’re a tiny list, and pride ourselves on being agile, and to dedicating serious editorial rigour to the books we champion. In the near future we hope to bring that focus to work in translation, by poets yet to make an appearance in print in English.
Ella Frears’s debut collection Shine, Darling, which we published in April this year, right in the midst of the first lockdown, is a book we’re phenomenally proud of. It’s intimate, funny, technically adept, and has found admiring readers wherever it’s gone. It has sold more than a thousand copies to date (no mean feat, for a publishing house our size!), been chosen by the PBS as one of their 2020 Recommendations, was one of just five books shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and, of course, now joins the shortlist for the T. S. Eliot Prize. I agree with Mark Waldron, who writes that ‘These poems have a clarity and straightforwardness that only a special kind of attention, and a certain kind of fearlessness, can achieve.’ I hope that Offord Road Books can continue to be inspired by Ella’s fearlessness, and to carry it with us into the books we publish in the years to come.