Why Has No One Ever Heard of The World’s First Poet?

So, you might already know that April is National Poetry Month. Founded in 1996 by the American Academy of Poets, the month celebrates the expressiveness of poetry and honors its legacy through awareness and appreciation.


But what you probably don’t know is that the world’s first known poet was…


drumroll, please…


A WOMAN.


That’s right, and her name was Enheduanna, a Sumerian princess and priestess who lived in ancient Mesopotamia around the 23rd century BCE. Even though scribal traditions were a male-dominant practice during that time, Enheduanna wrote approximately 42 hymns, numerous myths, and other works of literature that became an influential piece of Mesopotamia’s literary history.


I mean, are you surprised? I’m not.


While it’s a bit difficult to track down reliable translations of her works, it’s clear her subject matter was personal, introspective, and spiritual. The best part? There is record that attests to her writing about the craft, including streams of consciousness about writer’s block and reflecting on the quality of her artistic skills.


Don’t you just love it?


At the end of her collection of hymns, she’s reported to have written: “The compiler of the tablets was En-hedu-ana. My king, something has been created that no one has created before.”


Well, I’ve got chills.


What’s more compelling, is lots of her writing is autobiographical, depicting her experiences as a woman in power, and the men who tried to force her from her throne. She speaks of her pleas to the moon god who she does not believe helps her. But then she begins praying to Inanna, Mesopotamia goddess of love, sex, and war, who she praises for helping her hone her authority.


It’s all just so remarkable to me. And gosh, do the cycles continue to repeat themselves.


As a fellow poet who values the integrity of poetry as a foundational piece of literary culture and an advocate for the amplification of women’s narratives, this was exceptionally validating for me to discover.


4,000 years ago a woman carved her expressive emotions onto clay tablets, and today, we are celebrating it as a key element of creativity known as poetry.


I wonder if some of our history’s other most influential women writers are aware of Enheduanna’s works. It seems like not many writers are. After seven years of formal education in literary studies on the master’s level, it took my curiosity and some google searching to uncover this information.


But, honestly, what a great way to kick off National Poetry Month, right?


Speaking of which, Our Galaxy is starting National Poetry Month with a list of 30 poetry prompts. Follow our journey on Instagram and Facebook where we’ll be sharing your work in our stories and on our feed all month long.


And if you want to read more works by influential women writers, purchase a copy of Our Galaxy’s #1 Amazon New Release anthology, Venus Rising: Musings & Lore from Women Writers, featuring over 50 women across the globe sharing nearly 100 stories and poems.


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Thanks for writing with us.


Until next time, writer friends,


Christine


Christine Weimer is a writer, publisher, and award-winning author from Queens, New York who co-founded Our Galaxy Publishing as the Editor-in-Chief to amplify women's voices in publishing. Her first poetry collection, Tainted Lionheart, won the Gold Medal Poetry Award for Readers’ Favorite 2021. She is currently writing the final installment of her poetic series and working on her MA in English while honing all the guts and glory of motherhood. Visit her personal blog here: amindfulwriter.com