Cass Dalglish's Humming the Blues enthralled me from the beginning; that could be due to the fact that I do have an interest in ancient civilization going back to Sumerian times.
When I saw that this book focuses on the very first recorded writer (the first writer to sign their name to a piece of work), Enheduanna, a female priest back before there was discrimination and a necessity for a feminine/male name to each profession who tended to the temples and rituals for Inanna. Inanna was an ancient being thought to be a god whose family were rulers among rulers.
People grouped themselves into a series of families with 12 leading heads and brutally fought over those positions. Inanna was said to be beautiful when she was young, schemed with many other gods, and was a lover to many men and male gods.
While the exterior of the book is fairly plain and simple, and the size may seem a little thin at only 66-pages, the book is deceptively captivating. Enheduanna’s beautifully written hymn “Nin-Me-Sar-Ra” depicts a time of upheaval when Inanna’s temple is attached and the priest is disgraced. Her lamentation of the treatment of the temple’s sacred rooms and rituals and her heart-wrenching appeal for justice
is so emotional and beautiful that I could hardly put the book down.
The original work by Enheduanna was written in cuneiform around 2350 BCE. Dalglish, has an impressive educational background in interpretations and language studies (hieroglyphs and Sumerian
cuneiform). According to the media kit, Dalglish holds a PhD from Union Institute, is associate professor of English and chair of women’s studies at Augsburg College, and has studied ancient women writings for over
a decade. She is also the award-winning author of Sweetgrass and Nin. Her work as a poet and journalist played a vital role in the research and intense lyric translations that went into this project. The closing notes by the author at the end of the book give further insight into the labor, and passion, involved.
As a reviewer for over seven years, I have worked on at least a thousand books - most of
which are donated to literacy and library programs. Less than one percent of these books end up on my own bookshelves; this book will be among them. In fact, it will
have a place of honor on those shelves, sitting with my absolute favorite books of all time.