Writing prose has always been more difficult for me than writing poetry. I think that what I find so challenging is fitting the descriptive content of my ideas into strict grammatical structure. When I explained this problem to my advisor, Anne-Marie, she reminded me that it is okay for me to write prose poetically. Since that conversation, I’ve tried writing the first drafts of monologues and short stories in the form of a poem to help get the words down on paper and then re-writing the piece as prose.
This week, I’m rereading one of my favorite books: Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. The book is a series of very short stories describing a variety of imaginary cities, narrated by Marco Polo. Different passages strike me with their beauty each time I pick up the book, and this time was no exception. Calvino writes:
“Finally, he comes to Isidora, a city where the buildings have spiral staircases encrusted with spiral seashells, where perfect telescopes and violins are made, where the foreigner hesitating between two women always encounters as third, where cockfights degenerate into blody brawls among the bettors. He was thinking of all these things when he desired a city. Isidora, therefore, is the city of his dreams: with one difference. The dreamed-of city contained him as a yong man; he arrives at Isidora in his old age. In the square there is a wall where the old men sit and watch the young go by; he is seated in a row with them. Desires are already memories” (8).
Invisible Cities reminds me once again just how poetic prose can be, confirming that writing does not have to be either poetry or prose, but can instead adopt qualities of both.