Desmond Painter. Wat is ‘n prosagedig? Robert Pinsky oor Manuel Bandeira

Manuel Bandeira

Manuel Bandeira

Wat is ‘n prosagedig? Wat is die verskil tussen ‘n prosagedig en ‘n kort-kortverhaal? Is Breyten Breytenbach se Katastrofes prosagedigte of kort-kortverhale? En Zirk van den Berg se tekste in Ekstra Dun vir Meer Gevoel? Wat is die verskil tussen ‘n prosagedig en die ‘poëtiese’ prosa van ‘n Michael Ondaatje of ‘n Anne Michaels? Ek was nog nooit regtig seker oor enige van hierdie vrae nie — en ek moet bysê, ek het myself ook nog nooit regtig hieroor verknies nie!

Robert Pinsky maak myns insiens ‘n sinvolle opmerking oor prosagedigte in ‘n kommentaar op ‘n teks van die Brasiaanse digter Manuel Bandeira. Pinsky skryf: ‘People like to debate the nature of prose poetry; most efforts to define a “prose poem” involve contrasting it to the poetic convention of writing in lines. A better approach might be contrasting the prose poem with conventional prose narratives. Here is Elizabeth Bishop’s translation of “Brazilian Tragedy” by Manuel Bandeira. Its rapid, concentrated movement makes the ordinary novel seem unbearably slow by comparison. The place-names drive the story ahead at the speed of sound, where film might take an hour, or fiction a hundred pages.’

Interessant. Stem julle saam met Robert Pinsky? Ek kan my voorstel dat daar heelwat verskillende menings oor hierdie onderwerp sal wees. Hier is die prosagedig van Manuel Bandeira (die Brasiliaan waaroor ek gister ook geblog het) waarna Pinsky verwys:


BRAZILIAN TRAGEDY – by Manuel Bandeira

Misael, civil servant in the Ministry of Labor, 63 years old,
Knew Maria Elvira of the Grotto: prostitute, syphilitic, with ulcerated fingers, a pawned wedding ring and teeth in the last stages of decay.
Misael took Maria out of “the life,” installed her in a two-storey house in Junction City, paid for the doctor, dentist, manicurist …. He gave her everything she wanted.
When Maria Elvira discovered she had a pretty mouth, she immediately took a boy-friend.
Misael didn’t want a scandal. He could have beaten her, shot her, or stabbed her. He did none of these: they moved.
They lived like that for three years.
Each time Maria Elvira took a new boy-friend, they moved.
The lovers lived in Junction City. Boulder. On General Pedra Street, The Sties. The Brickyards. Glendale. Pay Dirt. On Marques de Sapucai Street in Villa Isabel. Niteri.
Euphoria. In Junction City again, on Clapp Street. All Saints. Carousel. Edgewood. The Mines. Soldiers Home…
Finally, in Constitution Street, where Misael, bereft of sense and reason, killed her with six shots, and the police found her stretched out, supine, dressed in blue organdy.

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