Oscar Mardell is a regular contributor to A Leap in the Dark - his 'Letter from Auckland' is a keenly-awaited feature, in which he reports from New Zealand under what was until recently lock-down. How to describe his approach? Think of the BBC's 'From Our Own Correspondent' reinvented by Dada pranksters.
His debut collection of poetry is published this week by the Manchester-based independent press with a particularly memorable name:
Oscar has Kindly allowed me to share three poems, the first two of which her read last Friday night. His subject is the built environment, and if you don't already know the Fiat Tagliero building in Eritrea (and the other Italian fascist architecture there), or the Crossness and Abbey Mills pumping stations in East London do look them up, and marvel.
The Most Beautiful Petrol Station in the World
It is the Fiat Tagliero building
in Asmara, Eritrea, planned
by Giuseppe Pettazzi, fascist aesthete,
and built under his watch in thirty-eight.
On either side the central concrete spire,
are fifteen-metre cantilevered wings,
the premature arrival of a future
long expired, and stationed in Asmara,
Eritrea. Some bureaucrat insists
this soaring flight must rest, during construction,
on state-approved supports. Pettazzi asks,
Have you no faith? Have these removed, or I
will build out here Asmara’s own Golgotha,
will make apocrypha of Little Rome.
Cathedrals of Sewage
of course / the cesspools weren’t ideal but
they were all emptied by the nightmen and
their contents sold upstream / waste is not waste
which quickens what it stagnant finds / and if
we are to ride this boom and nourish all
these fucking folk [none should be surplus here]
the fields must multiply in step / we must
play nightmen to the Christforsaken river
[and He was not just clean besides / was not
just set aside from all the stink / besides
Pilate washed] / and never hope to rise
above this station / only to permit
the marriage of the true eject / restore
the earth to Adam / say this is your shit
And finally here's a link to a marvellous poem about the Michelin building in Fulham, perhaps better known as the Bibendum restaurant (and I include the link because you should see the website)
Oscar's next appearance on A Leap in the Dark is on Friday 26th June, when he'll be concentrating on Welsh rarebit.