Teen Writing Contest at the Morgan Library & Museum

She Who Wrote: Enheduanna and Women of Mesopotamia, ca. 3400–2000 B.C.

Cylinder seal (modern impression) with goddesses Ninishkun and Ishtar, Mesopotamia, Akkadian, Akkadian period (ca. 2334–2154 BC), Cuneiform inscription: To the deity Niniškun, Ilaknuid, [seal]-cutter, presented (this), Limestone. The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, acquired 1947; A27903.

Did you know the first writer identifiable by name in human history is a Mesopotamian woman from 2300 B.C. named Enheduanna? Her writing is also the earliest known use of first-person perspective!

Inspired by Enheduanna, the Morgan is hosting a creative writing contest for teens.

Enheduanna wrote about her life as a high priestess and about the patron deity of her family, Ishtar, also called Inanna, the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war. Through Enheduanna’s writing, Ishtar is described like a superhero, a powerful protector.

Enter the Morgan’s Teen Writing contest with a first-person poem or narrative telling a story from the perspective of a hero or heroine. Use the pronouns “I,” and “me,” to show the narrator’s point of view.

Click here to read an example of Enheduanna’s poetry, translated from ancient texts. In “The Exaltation of Inanna,” Enheduanna tells the story of when her life was in danger during a war, and how the goddess protected and inspired her.

Entries accepted in two categories:

  • Poetry: up to 3,000 characters in first person
  • Prose: up to 3,000 characters in first person

Awards will be given in two age groups:

  • Middle School (Grades 6 to 8)
  • High School (Grades 9 to 12)

Entries will be judged by a panel of Morgan Library & Museum staff for originality, creative use of the first person perspective, and style.

Written work should be submitted using this online form. Submissions must be written in English. Works can contain mature themes but inappropriate or graphic content is subject for removal.

Four winners total will be selected and will be awarded a $100 MasterCard gift card. Prizes are non-transferable. Content will be published on the Morgan’s website and via our social media channels.

Morgan Teen Writing Contest Guidelines:

  • Entrant must live, work, or go to school in one of the five boroughs of New York City.
  • Entrant must be between 13 and 19 years of age as of the date of entry.
  • Contest begins at 12:00:01 AM ET on Friday November 18, 2022 and ends at 11:59:59 PM ET on Friday, February 24, 2023.
  • Limit two entries per person, per email address.
  • Winners will be notified on Monday, March 20, 2023.
  • The Morgan may request a photograph of the winner to post with their writing.

Enter contest