“The Gospel According to Bobba” Ambrose Musiyiwa (CivicLeicester) – poetry review

The Gospel According to Bobba by Ambrose Musiyiwa book cover

“The Gospel According to Bobba” is a sequence of twenty-four aphoristic micro-poems. The language seems simple, but leaves plenty of white space for readers’ interpretations. This is number III:

“Bobba says
language
stripped
to its bare bones
sings”

Not all the gospels are so straightforward. Others touch on creating art, protest, psychology and being human. Some use minimal vocabulary to build a complex idea. Some nudge the reader into doing some of the work. In Number X

“Bobba says
imagine a shoe box
with an elephant and the number 3
in it”

There’s a conjuring of surrealism, playfulness and opportunity. Things happen in threes and three means there’s an odd one out, a misfit. The elephant is more likely to be figurative, suggestive of the elephant in the room in the sense of the obvious issue no one speaks about. It’s down to the reader to decide whether the box is open or shut and what the number three may represent.

Each gospel can stand alone but can also be read as part of a mini-narrative so the book can be read in one sitting or dipped into with a gospel selected to be meditated upon.

It doesn’t matter who Bobba is, the message is more important than the messenger. The gospels stand alone as words suggesting wisdom and a guide to life. The pamphlet is the right length. A collection would be too many and lose that pared-down intensity these have, like a performer who knows just when to leave the stage and timing it perfectly so the audience are still absorbing the material.

“The Gospel according to Bobba” is available via Abe Books

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