Prix Laurence - Bettembourg Prix Laurence 2020 - Luxembourg

Prix Laurence 2020

Barthel Angèle - Thoughts about the waves - of a refugee



The waves go all in one direction,

as opposed to human beings, they hold together.

The big waves push the little ones, and none will be left alone.

- a community


They are looking for a better place in this world,

a place which doesn’t exist,

but they won’t stop travelling.


While on their way,

they tell stories about their adventures.


The white foam always reminds them, that there is hope,

hope in humans.

This story is about a young woman’s story, a long, suffering story: Since months Fatima was on her escape. She comes from Sudan and did a bit less than two thousand kilometers. Her family had taken all their money to offer her the possibility to escape while hoping, that they could follow later: her mother who suffers from an illness and needs medicaments and her four sisters aged 11, 9, 5 and 2. Her father died 5 months ago. She began her escape when she climbed into a truck on the way to Libya. She knew that she was really lucky to have the possibility to travel by truck, because many hadn’t got enough money and walking for months to go to Libya. But still it wasn’t much better because in the truck, they were at least at 30 inside and sometimes she had to stand for hours a day. At first, the children had to sit because they are much weaker. After a week someone even died because of weakness. The worst part was when they were on the front of the country, because the security men there were cruel: if they were bad humoured they would take you all your goods and money. That happened to a woman and after she couldn’t climb in the truck anymore because she hadn’t anything left. Therefore, she had to stay in Sudan.

Finally when Fatima arrived in Libya, she was a lot weaker than before because often their water had to be enough for 3 days until they could fill their bottles and often she had to stand for hours, but still she was full of hope. For five days, she slept with two women and four men under a bridge, because she knew that she had to save as much money as she could because fleeing over the sea with the dinghies is really expensive: between 630 and 1270 euro. Furthermore, if you had bad luck, your dinghy could be stopped before even going out to sea and then you had to pay the amount again. Even after arriving in Europe Fatima already knew that she will need money. After these five days, in the night she went on one of these dinghies and bought a ticket.

The next day, at 2 am the dinghy started and she was really excited and happy because she thought she would have passed the most difficult part of her escape. Fortunately, the first days, everything went well and everyone had the possibility to sit, even if they didn’t have a lot of place to move because the dinghy was overfilled. The smugglers just cared about their profit, and not about the humans, whose lives they were risking to earn more money. Although, Fatima was happy and already envisioning how happy her family would be when they were reunited.

After a few days, a big storm came up and many risked to fall off the boat, clearly leading to death. The storm lasted and kept on and on. People were shouting and crying. Fatima can just remember that she was holding on a rope and couldn’t feel her hands anymore and that she was really afraid and crying because of fear and desperation. She couldn’t even see the others because her eyes were filled with tears.

The following morning, the storm passed and leaved people who lost their beloved-ones. In total, four people fell of and died: two men, a mother of a little boy and a little girl because her older brother couldn’t save her when she fell. Fatima was shocked and felt a deep sadness inside her heart. All her hope was gone because she saw the desperation of these people and couldn’t help them. Therefore, she looked sadly on the sea, which has, some hours ago, destructed lives and taken hope. Additionally, she was really angry with the muggers because it wasn’t responsible at all to overfill a dinghy and to expose it to the power of the sea. She was too disheartened to express her anger and looked into the waves, which go all into one direction. While looking into them and their gentle movements it wasn’t possible to even imagine that these little waves had risked capsizing the boat. Her eyes and thoughts were lost in the waves and she realized that the big waves always pushed the little waves. They helped one another and seemed to her as an utopic example of a community. The little ones that need help aren’t left alone, aren’t let their fate, but they are helped by he big ones which show them the right way and support them until they are able to go their own way. Fatima compared these movements to the reasons she and others had to flee: the little ones represent the refugees, as the families and children that need help and are helpless because of the big ones representing political problems, war, poverty, famine, etc that are destructing their lives. If a community existed where the little waves, representing people in need and the big waves politics that helped them, for Fatima it would be an utopic and idealistic but exemplary community. Sadly, such a community doesn’t exist. The humans don’t hold together, because they are too selfish and focused on profit.

For hours, Fatima is looking at the sea and she is realizing, that in fact, the waves are always moving, because they are trying to get to another place, a better place, a place, which sadly doesn’t exist. They’re trying to show us an example, Fatima thinks, but we don’t want to realize it and to improve. They are trying to teach us that we have to work together and make the world a better place. They won’t stop travelling until we will create a better place, because the place they’re searching for doesn’t exist because of us. Suddenly a tear wipes up of the edge of her eye and she realizes that she may be the first to understand this and that the waves wanted her to know this. The waves taught her all their intentions and she thought that they wanted especially her to know them and understood that they wanted her to make a difference. To show them that she agreed, she let her tear fall in the sea and promised them while looking closely into all their colours that she will change something. A whole day was passing and when she got out of her thoughts it was again early in the morning. Most of the people still slept and she was thinking about all the secrets she just got revealed.

Suddenly, she saw the little boy, maybe five or six years old whose mother died the day before. His arms were wrapped around him and he was sitting in an edge trying to make himself as small as possible, because he didn’t want to belong to this world anymore. She looked at him and saw at his shining eyes, that he had cried the whole night. Then she remembered that she had promised the waves that she would make a difference, so she decided to help the little boy and talked to him. She found out that he came from Sudan too and in the following days she helped him a lot and took care of him as if he was her little brother. She promised him, that he would never be alone because that was his biggest fear and even if she hadn’t much money left, she had decided, that whatever happens, she will be there for him when they would arrive in Europe. The boy always smiled with his eyes when she talked to him and he remembered her her little sisters who were always looking at her with the same eyes when she taught them how to read and write.

Once she dreamed about the sea and when she woke up, she knew that it wanted to tell her something. Immediately, she stood up and looked into the sea, which was glittering. She considered that it was like a never ending infinity, just as the waves which won’t stop moving. Now she was again thinking about the waves and their adventures because they travel a lot and meet many people. When someone is looking at them, they are reading their thoughts and decide if they should tell them their story or not. The sound they are making is their language, the language they use to communicate among them, as with the sea creatures. Fatima changes her position and is now on her knees and she sees the waves breaking on the dinghy and carrying it, full of humans for whose actions they can’t show any understanding. When a wave is touching it, foam comes up, foam which colour reminds them that there is always hope. Hope in humans, Fatima says with a whispering, clear and melancholic voice and then falls asleep.

A few days later they finally see land, many cry from happiness and relief. They are rescued and arrive in Lampedusa. There they get the essential needs and finally Fatima has arrived in her new life. They get in a refugee camp and she is already planning and imaging where she once would live with her little brother Abbas, because for the moment she hasn’t got a lot of money and the life in the camp in Lampedusa isn’t a lasting solution.

But she works hard and soon gets a job where she engages herself to help the refugees in the camp and after a year she can afford a little flat for her and Abbas on the island and Abbas goes to school.

A few years later, she had saved enough money to let her family come too but they hadn’t got the permission. Therefore, she sent the money to her mother, who wasn’t ill anymore and they decided to make the same dangerous way as she did. Everything happened well and before getting on the dinghy few months later, her mother borrowed a phone and told her that in the evening they would go out to the sea but that the weather conditions aren’t good at all and that the waves are really high. She is really afraid and asks Fatima to think about them. In Lampedusa it is 1 am and Abbas sleeps. Fatima decides to go to the sea and ask the waves to help her family to let them come to her. While looking in the waves and thinking about everything, which happened to her in the last years, she takes a sheet of paper and writes this story.

Salute: I chose the names Fatima and Abbas, because these are two kids who escaped from Syria. They had a different story and didn’t escape by sea, but it was still a sorrowful one. It’s a salute to them because I know them and am fascinated by them always being happy and grateful. For instance the little boy called Abbas got his whole face burned due to an explosion, but is always smiling. Fate can be cruel, but it’s your own decision if you will let it devastate you or make you stronger. Fortunately, now both began with their three siblings and parents a new life here.


ageschéckt den: 13:26 Mon, 16 March 2020 vum: Barthel Angèle



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Kleng Lecture, déi Iech vläicht weiderbréngt:


-  Gespräche mit Freunden
Roman, Luchterhand, 2019


-  Allegro Pastell
Roman, KiWi, 2020


-  Auf Erden sind wir kurz grandios
Roman, Hanser, 2019

-  Nachthimmel mit Austrittswunden
Gedichte, engl./dtsch., Hanser, 2020

ERNESTO CARDENAL (1925 - 2020)

-  Transitreisender
Gedichte, Peter Hammer Verlag, 2008


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Matthes & Seitz Berlin, 2018

mat 15 Joer
3. Präis beim Prix Laurence 2016

-  Lautlos
Roman, éditions guy binsfeld, 2019


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Lyrik, éditions guy binsfeld, 2019


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Eine politische Biografie (1912 - 1919)
éditions guy binsfeld, 2019

Reisen durch die junge Lyrik Europas

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Anthologie, Hanser, 2019


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Anthologie, Voland & Quist, 2018


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Stories, essays, poetry

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017

-  Manchmal kommen ...
Gedichte, Schöffling & Co, 2018


-  Die schönsten Streichhölzer der Welt
Englisch - Deutsch, mit den Gedichten
aus Jim Jarmuschs Film Paterson
Dieterich'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 2017


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Gedichte. Fanbook. Hall of Fame.
edition suhrkamp, 2018


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DVA, 2013

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DVA, 2006

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Wir haben uns wirklich an allerhand gewöhnt
Der Briefwechsel, Suhrkamp, 2019


-  Tieflandsbucht
Die Gedichte, Schöffling, 2018


-  Femmes poètes de la Beat Generation
éditions Bruno Doucey, 2018


-  An den Ufern der Dunkelheit
Gedichte aus Palästina
Fischer Taschenbuch, 2013


-  Warum ich nicht im Netz bin
Gedichte und Prosa aus dem Krieg
Suhrkamp, 2016


-  Das Buch der klassischen Haiku
Hrsgb. Jan Ulenbrook
Reclam, 2018


Auteuren 2020


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