SERAFINA Angeli has received statewide recognition for her homage to her much-loved great-grandmother, who she never met but whose life she wanted to chronicle and celebrate.
"It's about my great-grandmother Esterina Moni Bidin and her life growing up in 20th century Italy, surrounded by a lot of political and social tension," Ms Angeli said of her English Extension 2 major work, which she completed for the Higher School Certificate last year.
"It goes through three stages, her coming of age, her getting married and having children and her aging and it's against the social, political and cultural backdrop of Italy, which in and of itself was going through a significant shift at the time in terms of ideals."
Esterina Moni Bidin's story is the foundation of Ms Angeli's 5500-word creative non-fiction work, called TheUnfettered Soul.
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Ms Angeli is one of just 18 NSW students out of more than 1385 who have had their works selected for the Young Writers Showcase anthology.
Ms Angeli said her teachers at St Francis Xavier's College in Hamilton used to encourage students to read the showcase publications as resources and an illustration of the high standard of work, "but it never occurred to me that mine would be included".
"It was a very nice surprise," she said. "My main goal was honestly getting it in and doing as well as I could, so it was really nice when I did find out that it had been included."
Ms Angeli , 18, said her paternal grandfather Sante and grandmother displayed Esterina's photo on the wall of their home.
"I really got to know what I do know about her through them," she said.
"The basis of it was the stories he told me. I got to interview him at the start of last year and I have all the voice recordings from that interview.
"He actually passed away this year, so that's something that's quite special now. It shows the power of family stories and the passing down of this story through generations.
"It really did inspire me to give a voice to her, because she would not have had a voice in literature and also a lot of other women who were living at that time, they wouldn't have had a voice, so I wanted to give a platform to their voice in a way.
"I really wanted to amplify her voice and experiences and by extension the other women who were living at the time, because it was such a difficult time for them to live through - the wars, great social changes, there was a period they called the emancipation that happened in the 1960s and early 1970s in Italy.
"I thought contextualising her voice among the myriad of others that existed at that time to share their stories with people who probably wouldn't normally know that sort of thing or may not typically be interested in that... or typically have heard those voices, they can have the opportunity to share in those voices and their experiences."
Ms Angeli's work also alludes to poet Antonia Pozzi's A Longing for Light Things and the songs of feminist icon Mina Mazzini.
"Women really had to fight quite hard to have their creative ventures read and heard," she said.
"In my reflection statement I described it as a pastiche of historical non-fiction and a memoir, almost a historical memoir."
Ms Angeli said she spent countless hours on the work and was still editing it 10 minutes before it was due last August.
"It was a very big task but definitely the most rewarding subject I did for the HSC. To have that with me, I will keep it with me for the rest of my life."
Ms Angeli is currently studying a Bachelor of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney.
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