'Women on War' The first known poet, male or female, was the Sumerian priestess Enheduanna, who spoke of the sorrow of war in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia, where present-day Iraq now stands. Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hansen talks with Daniela Gioseffi, editor of a new anthology of women's writings, Women on War, which begins with Enheduanna's words and features 150 poetry and prose authors. Hear Gioseffi recite three selected poems from the collection.
NPR logo 'Women on War'

'Women on War'

Anthology of Women's Poetry and Prose on Deadly Combat

Cover for Women on War (The Feminist Press at CUNY) hide caption

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From 'Women on War'

Readings by anthology editor Daniela Gioseffi

Listen "Lament to The Spirit of War" by Sumerian poet/priestess Enheduanna
» Read a transcript of the poem

Listen "Children of the Epoch" by Wislawa Szymborska
» Read a transcript of the poem

Listen "The Bombing of Baghdad" by June Jordan
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The first known poet, male or female, was the Sumerian priestess Enheduanna. She spoke of the sorrows of her time -- of wars in her homeland within the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia, where Iraq now stands.

Ancient as they may be, Enheduanna's words of protest and peace still resonate today.

Enheduanna's "Lament on the Spirit of War" opens Women on War: An International Anthology of Writings from Antiquity to the Present, a collection of 150 writings by women. The collection is edited by Daniela Gioseffi -- writer, professor and peace activist who has won numerous awards for her work.

The first volume of Women on War was published in 1988, and won the American Book Award. Three years later, during the 1991 Gulf War, NPR's Liane Hansen spoke with Gioseffi about the unique perspective women have on mortal combat and its effects on the fabric of society.

This all-new edition includes a "who's who" list of women writers: Jane Addams, Anna Akhmatova, Daisy al-Amir, Fadwa Tuqan, Gwendolyn Brooks, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Grace Paley, Claribel Alegria, Isabel Allende, Maya Angelou, Simone de Beauvoir, Helen Caldicott, Rosalie Bertell, Carolyn Forche, Emma Goldman, Nadine Gordimer, Kimiko Hahn, Molly Peacock, Rochelle Ratner, Pwu Jean Lee, Tsai Wen Ji, Ch'iu Chin, Robin Morgan, Gabriela Mistral, Linda Hogan, Adrienne Rich, Denise Levertov, Vandana Shiva, Arundhati Roy, Wislawa Symborska, Luisa Valenzuela, Christa Wolf, Muriel Rukeyser, June Jordan... plus 100 others, including Daniela Gioseffi herself.

Now the United States is in another war, again with Iraq -- and again, Gioseffi finds that women's words have a powerful resonance in violent times.