In this special guest blog post, Ana Sampson discusses six female poets whose poetry has been forgotten (even if they are remembered for something else!)
In 2017, I decided that I wanted to read an anthology of poems by women spanning many centuries and diverse points of view. There had been nothing of this nature published for at least the last two decades. I began to research my own, in the process discovering a rich seam of wonderful work I had never read before, though some of the names were already familiar. Here are six women who wrote fantastic poetry – though it is not what they are remembered for today.
Mary Elizabeth Coleridge (1861-1907)
Mary was the great-great-niece of Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, but was much better known during her life for her eerie, imaginative novels. Read the rest of this entry
The best epics by women
The Iliad, The Odyssey, Paradise Lost – these are some of the titles that immediately spring to mind when we think of epic poetry. But this ignores the contributions made to epic poetry by women writers over the millennia. Here are seven of the best classic epic poems written by women.
Enheduanna, The Descent of Inanna. Although the authorship of this epic poem is difficult to know for sure, if Enheduanna was the author of this poem, as has been suggested, that makes it the oldest work of poetry written by any named poet, male or female. Enheduanna was a Sumerian high priestess who lived in the 23rd century BC – that’s around 1,500 years before Homer. She lived in the city of Ur (in modern-day Iraq), and was a priestess of the Sumerian moon god Nanna. This poem describes the goddess Inanna’s descent into the underworld – Inanna being the daughter of Nanna, and the Sumerian goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and wisdom, among other things. Although it’s a short work (it runs to little over 400 lines), it contains many of the elements we associate with epic poetry, and elements of the story are found in the later myths of the descent of Ishtar and the Greek story of Persephone and Hades. You can read a modern English translation of the poem here. Read the rest of this entry