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Greek 13-Year-Old Wins Global Literature Competition

global literature competition
Marita Datseri has won the Global Literature Competition at just 13 years of age. Credit: AMNA

A Greek 13-year-old named Marita Datseri won the Global Literature Competition hosted by the Writers’ Union of Northern Greece. Datseri spoke to AMNA on Monday to discuss her recent accomplishment.

The young writer from Heraklion, Crete, who just finished her first year of middle school, is already wowing influential figures in literature with her work about the Greek Revolution of 1821.

Thirteen year old Cretan girl wins global literature competition

The 17th annual competition was announced by the Writers’ Union of Northern Greece and was themed around the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution. Datseri was undoubtedly the perfect person to enter, as she has spoken multiple times of her love of history.

She especially loves to read the Greek writers Cavafy and Vizyinos, and clearly has a passion for history and literature. She mentioned that she prefers modern Greek history and that she has therefore read a great deal about 1821. Her winning story made her feel a kinship to the characters she created and was also a way to pass the time during quarantine, she stated.

“It was a difficult year for us, spending it in front of a computer screen. I think, however, that one can travel both with thought and imagination. At least that’s how I tried to travel, and the short story I wrote helped me with that.

“Because of this, I managed several times to forget the hazy everyday life,” Datseri shared, showing how much writing can impact the author as well as the reader.

However, young authors cannot be expected to do everything themselves. It is likely that Datseri would not be in this position without the support of her teachers, Maria Markou and Hariklia Pediaditou, who encouraged her to enter the competition.

After she received their encouragement, Datseri began to write her final piece for the competition. It was inspired by work she had already prepared for her Modern Greek class and the portraits of the heroes of the Revolution in her school hallways.

“In my short story, the portraits of the heroes of 1821 come to life before my eyes. They are alive, standing in front of me and talking to me. I describe what they tell me. They refer me to each other and from the remnants of the battle in Souli. I am at sea and Kanaris and immediately after next to him is Kolokotronis and Manto Mavrogenous, who is looking at Ypsilantis. I describe what I see and hear next to them.

“I am next to the heroes of 1821 who fought for the ideal of freedom, without letting the cost hold them back,” Datseri shared, showing vividly she made these Greek heroes come to life.

She also believes that the heroes she tried to honor through her work would not be particularly happy if they saw what Greece looked like today.

“I feel that the new generations have forgotten them… That we do not honor them as much as we should, if we think about how great what they gave us is,” Datseri said.

She continued by stating that she thinks her heroes “would tell us today, that we too must fight our own battles for freedom, as the highest of ideals.”

It will be interesting to see Datseri grow as a writer and historian, as she is currently only 13 years of age.

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