Sunday 4 October 2015

Review by Jonathan Taylor of "The Gospel According to Bobba" by Ambrose Musiyiwa

There is a wonderful twentieth-century composer called Webern, who managed to encompass whole Mahlerian symphonies, whole concertos, musical drama, tragedy, comedy, in the space of a couple of minutes. Something similar might be said of a new miniature e-book by Ambrose Musiyiwa, called The Gospel According to Bobba. Here, encapsulated in twenty-four micro-poems, is a microcosmic universe of knowledge, encompassing everything from politics:

Bobba says
in a country
that's afraid of its own shadow
should be places
where light is cast on shadows

... to philosophy:

Bobba says
there's something about tea and biscuits
which makes the world
a beautiful place

... to the significance of an elephant and the number three in a shoe box:

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

In miniature form, there is surrealism here, psychology, playfulness, sadness, even mini-narratives sustained between the individual micro-poems. The collection might take five minutes to read, but its nano-wisdom reaches out far beyond its twenty-or-so pages. Like Webern's epigrammatic music, it's all rather wonderful.

About the reviewer
Jonathan Taylor's books include the novel Melissa (Salt, 2015), and the poetry collection Musicolepsy (Shoestring, 2013). His website is

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