by Niki Marangou
As Published in In Focus, Vol. 9, No. 1, March 2012
In 1992, the Cyprus PEN Center began to publish a series of brief volumes in English, dedicated to recognized Cypriot authors, under the general title “Literary Profiles”.
A select team of Literary critics and researchers has undertaken to edit the series. The translation has been assigned to an equally select team of translators. Others have given us permission to use already translated work. Until now, 53 Literary Profiles have been published.
This year, the Cyprus Pen has published the Literary Portraits of Maria Pyliotou and of Myrianthi Panayiotou-Papaonisiforou.
Maria Pyliotou was born in 1935 in Lefkonico. She experienced the poverty and misfortune of World War II at an early age. Her first contact with fairy tales was her story-teller grandfather. She worked for many years as a teacher and headmaster in schools in Cyprus.
She has been writing award-winning books for children and youth since 1976, most of which have been published by major Greek publishers. Some have been translated into different languages. She has received awards and distinctions for her work.
Pyliotou is always careful not to succumb to literary didacticism, thus choosing to give her books non-conclusive endings, preferring to allow the child to use his/her imagination. A good listener, an avid reader, a mother of two daughters (of whom Theodora has illustrated seven of her books), and a grandmother, Maria has built her life on the philosophy that every question is open to multiple answers and that every issue can encompass numerous truths.
In 1983 her lyrics for the “Song of joy” set to music by Giorgos Marcou, was awared the UNICEF Prize and released as a record on the occasion of the International Year of the Child.
The literary profile of Maria Pyliotou was edited by Maria Olympiou, another writer of books for children.
Myrianthi Panayiotou-Papaonisiforou was born in Paphos, where she still lives. She studied Social Sciences in Athens and completed her post-graduate studies in London. She has worked in the Department of Social Services. Essentially a poet, she has also written verses and stories for children and has received awards and distinctions.
“Her verses are mature and dense with meaning, replete with the bittersweet chill of nostalgia, with the memories of lost homes, landscapes and locations,” according to Manos Kralis. The poet ponders human nature and behaviour. She meditates on man’s relationship with the universe, on his psycho-spiritual journey to maturity and on the perfection of the human personality through the eras. In some of her poems she has used the wealth of the Cypriot idiom. She feels that she had been lucky to have lived for many years in rural Cyprus, storing up experiences and the unique sounds of the language.
In Letter To The Missing Person she describes the experiences and thoughts of mother of a missing person, 22 years after the Turkish invasion: “and if we do not hear you/break down the door/and come inside/my son…”
The literary profile was edited by Mona Savvidou-Theodoulou, a well known writer of prose and poetry.