"What Makes a Poem Good?"

Frances Pritchett
Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 3:30pm to 5:30pm
317 Thomson Hall, Seattle, WA

It's an annoying question, the kind that seems to be the rightful domain of philosophers and English professors with too much time on their hands. (What do we mean by "good"? By a "poem"? By "make"?) And yet every time we like or dislike a poem we implicitly show that we can answer this question. Every time we justify our likes and dislikes we attempt to systematize our answers, and every time we argue about poetry we seek to create our own theory of literary esthetics. By looking at a few very short poems in English and Urdu, I'll try to suggest a thing or two about what good (lyric) poems do to our minds, and to show how this process can be seen to extend from Ogden Nash to Ghalib.

Bio: Frances Pritchett is a Professor of Modern Indic Languages at Columbia University. Her work nowadays centers on the classical Urdu ghazal, especially Ghalib and Mir.

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