"Poetic" is a term that's often applied to prose, but what does it mean?
Blurb-writers and critics use it as shorthand for the lyrical use of device, for musicality as expressed through sounds and rhythms. However, I feel this interpetation is slack journalese, perpetuating the public's misconceptions of poetry.
In fact, real poetic prose is the pared-down use of language, where each word works overtime for its keep. It's prose where there's a heightened awareness of the slightest nuance belonging to every lexical choice.
The compact, compressed nature of short stories lends itself more to this quality than a novel. Cortázar, Borges and Carver are all examples of writers who began with poetry and then excelled as short-story writers. As for myself, I love telling short stories in my poetry.
If 2017 was a lean year for poetry, as someone has said, I can’t say I noticed. Daljit Nagra’s *The British Museum* (Faber) introduced a clear-eyed, poli...