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The Winners of Floating Voices 2020 are…

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The jury of the Floating Voices Contest has reached its verdict. Here are the winners of the 2nd edition of the Floating Voices 2020 edition launched by Maydan!

This edition’s theme was SOLIDARITY WITHOUT FRONTIERS and was chosen with the aim of:

  • highlighting the role of Art as an element to elevate consciences, during times when environmental conditions are not conducive to interpersonal exchanges and indeed, these are inhibited by health regulations and the law;
  • strengthening relationships and sharing dreams between young citizens on both sides of the Mediterranean; and
  • stimulating Thought, which has always driven culture and therefore life in the Mediterranean.

The Floating Voices Contest is an expression of Maydan Association’s values and ideas.

2020 was a very hard year for everyone, all over the world; physically, but especially emotionally. We have all been overwhelmed by a tide of suffering, pain and fear.

The Floating Voices Contest is not a creative art award that looks only at quality. Its value lies in its ability to stimulate reflection, thought and action aimed at the Mediterranean. The Jury has been tolerant about the quality of the submitted works, because it considered that the Candidates have made an effort in such a difficult period of our lives. Therefore, all the entries received were accepted for evaluation by the Jury.

We received fourteen (14) entries from 6 countries in the Mediterranean region (Egypt, Italy, Sweden, Jordan, Croatia and Spain), written in three languages (Arabic, Italian and English): 3 in the “Short story” section and 6 in the “Poetry” section, 3 for the “Photography” category and 1 for “Short graphic novels”.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the winners:

Poetry section

Southern Coast

Mohamed Hassan Yehya (Egypt) – First Prize / Honourable Mention with Bitter Year (original text in ArabicEnglish transl. ; French transl.)

Abstract: The text of the poem recalls the walls erected between people both during the 2020 pandemic and those that have always been there. And it invites us to look to the Mediterranean Sea as a unifying element for the peoples on its shores.

Northern Coast

  1. Noël de la Vega (Italy) – First Prize / Honourable Mention with Mare, Migranti, Disperazione (original text in Italianwith musicEnglish transl.)

Synopsis: It is a piece of music with a rap rhythm and the rhyme in the text picks up the tempo. The words express the denunciation of the prejudice of the north seen through the eyes of those who look at the suffering beyond identities.

The results of the Contest with a biography of the authors and the full selection’s motivation will be on-line soon on Maydan’s homepage.

For the other categories, the works were not judged suitable.

The winners will participate in the award ceremony to be held in Reggio Calabria, where the Maydan Association was born, a city at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, which has hosted two editions of SabirFest, a festival celebrating Mediterranean culture and citizenship.

The partner of the ceremony will be Progetto Mediterranea, an association of activists with a passion for the Mediterranean, which has created the “Mediterranean Flag”, the hoisting of which will take place for the first time in Reggio Calabria during the award ceremony of the 2020 Floating Voices Contest.

The jury was composed of:


Fabio Geda is an esteemed writer. He has worked for many years as an educator. He made his debut in 2007 with Per il resto del viaggio ho fotografato gli indiani about a Romanian boy travelling through Europe in search of his grandfather. Nel mare ci sono i coccodrilli, based on the true story of an Afghan refugee, Enaiatollah Akbari, has sold over 500,000 copies in Italy, has been translated into twenty-seven languages and was a finalist for the Premio Strega. He is a consultant to the Turin Book Fair and the Premio Strega Ragazze e Ragazzi [Photo by Mauro Raffini].

Besnik Mustafaj is one of the most important contemporary Albanian authors of prose and poetry, who was also Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2007. He has written numerous novels, books of poetry, non-fiction, collections and translations. In 1997 he won the “Méditerranée” award for the novel Daullja prejre letre (Paper Drum). He was named Author of the Year at the 2017 Pristina Book Fair and Best Author at the 2019 Tirana Book Fair. He was also among the first 80 signatories of the 2019 Maydan Appeal “Embracing the Mediterranean Means Saving Europe” before the European elections.

Elettra Stamboulis is an art curator, writer, and school principal. She coined the term “Reality Comics” and was the artistic director of the International Reality Comics Festival Komikazen. She has curated exhibitions of numerous Italian and international authors including Satrapi and Sacco. She wrote the Graphic Novels: Piccola GerusalemmeOfficina del macello, L’ammaestratore di Istanbul, Cena con Gramsci, Arrivederci Berlinguer, Pertini tra le nuvole, Diario segreto di Pasolini. She has collaborated with many Italian and international newspapers. As an art curator, she has recently presented the Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan, with the exhibition Avremo anche giorni migliori at Brescia’s Santa Giulia Museum.

Ilham Zenid is a Moroccan writer and teacher. She was runner-up in last year’s Floating Voices competition and participated in the award ceremony in Genoa, reading excerpts from her short story La Fiesta. She has received several national, international and Arab awards, including: the El Sharjah Prize for Literary Creativity (United Arab Emirates) in the novel category for her first novel Smells; and the second prize in the 11th edition of the literary competition A Sea of Words, organized by IEMed and the Anna Lindh Foundation, for her short story Dancing with the Past.


Mike Baynham is emeritus professor at the University of Leeds and a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. His academic field is sociolinguistics, particularly multilingualism, language and migration, literacy studies, language learning in migration contexts. Since 2015 he has been involved in organizing a number of seminars on Language and Migration across the Mediterranean, firstly in Tunis, Paris, Palermo, most recently in Barcelona in 2019 [ Program and abstracts] As well as English Mike speaks French, Spanish, Italian and has been studying Arabic for many years. He therefore appreciates the saying: [Arabic is an ocean without a shore].  He is also a poet and translator of poetry, mainly from Spanish but more recently from Arabic. His poems and translations from Spanish have been published in the Ártemis database Mike Baynham – Poesía Ártemis. He has translated poems by the Moroccan poet Abdallah Zrika and is working with the zajal poet Adil Latefi on a translation of his diwan [Thirst Tells the Story of its Life]. He is a member of Qisetna

Francesco Nacinovich was born in 1980, to an Italian speaking family, in the city of Rijeka/Fiume, then belonging to Yugoslavia, now Croatia. He grew up as an Italian-Croatian bilingual, attending Italian schools, in the typical multi-cultural context of an area that has been, for centuries, a melting pot for the Latin, the Slavic, the Mittle-European, the Jewish and the Turkish cultures. He owes his current love and curiosity for the Mediterranean to that upbringing. After a obtaining a Masters in Computer Science in Udine, Italy and a few years working in northeastern Italy, he settled in Switzerland, with periodical long breaks devoted to discovering the Mediterranean region on board of the Mediterranea. He speaks fluent Italian, Croatian, English and French and is learning Arabic.

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