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

  1. Mohamed Hassan Yehya (Egypt) – First Prize / Honourable Mention with Bitter Year (original text in Arabic; English 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 Italian, with music; English 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, writer. His book 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 Strega Prize. He is a consultant to the Turin Book Fair and the Premio Strega Ragazze e Ragazzi.

Besnik Mustafaj, writer and poet. He is one of the most important contemporary Albanian authors of prose and poetry, and was also Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2007. He has written numerous novels, books of poetry and non-fiction. In 1997, he won the ‘Méditerranée’ award for his novel Daullja prejre letre (Paper Drum). He was also among the first 80 signatories of the 2019 Maydan appeal “Embracing the Mediterranean means saving Europe” in the run-up to the European elections.

Elettra Stamboulis, 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 has collaborated with many Italian and international publications. As an art curator, she recently presented Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan to the public with the exhibition Avremo anche giorni migliori, at the Museo di Santa Giulia in Brescia.

Ilham Zenid, Moroccan writer and teacher. She was runner-up in the Floating Voices 2019 competition. She has received several national, international and Arab awards. She was awarded second prize in the literary competition A Sea of Words, organised by IEMed and the Anna Lindh Foundation, for her short story Dancing with the Past.


Mike Baynham, Professor Emeritus at the University of Leeds and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. His academic field is sociolinguistics, in particular multilingualism, language and migration, literacy studies, language learning in migratory contexts. He is also a poet and poetry translator. He has translated the poems of the Moroccan poet Abdallah Zrika.

Francesco Nacinovich, born into an Italian-speaking family in the city of Rijeka/Fiume, then part of Yugoslavia, now Croatia. He grew up as a bilingual Italian-Croatian, attending Italian schools, in the typical multicultural context of an area that was for centuries a melting pot of Latin, Slavic, Central European, Jewish and Turkish cultures. It is to this education that he owes his current love and curiosity for the Mediterranean. After completing a Master’s degree in Computer Science in Udine and working for a few years in north-eastern Italy, he settled in Switzerland, with long periodic breaks dedicated to discovering the Mediterranean as part of the Progetto Mediterranea expedition.