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While the Earth Sleeps We Travel: Stories, Poetry, and Art from Young Refugees Around the World

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A groundbreaking collection of poetry, personal narratives, and art from refugee youth around the world. Foreword by actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller. Beginning in 2018, Ahmed M. Badr—an Iraqi-American poet and former refugee—traveled to Greece, Trinidad & Tobago, and Syracuse, New York, holding storytelling workshops with hundreds of displaced youth: those l A groundbreaking collection of poetry, personal narratives, and art from refugee youth around the world. Foreword by actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller. Beginning in 2018, Ahmed M. Badr—an Iraqi-American poet and former refugee—traveled to Greece, Trinidad & Tobago, and Syracuse, New York, holding storytelling workshops with hundreds of displaced youth: those living in and outside of camps, as well as those adjusting to life after resettlement. Combining Badr’s own poetry with the personal narratives and creative contributions of dozens of young refugees, While the Earth Sleeps We Travel seeks to center and amplify the often unheard perspectives of those navigating through and beyond the complexities of displacement. The result is a diverse and moving collection—a meditation on the concept of "home" and a testament to the power of storytelling.


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A groundbreaking collection of poetry, personal narratives, and art from refugee youth around the world. Foreword by actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller. Beginning in 2018, Ahmed M. Badr—an Iraqi-American poet and former refugee—traveled to Greece, Trinidad & Tobago, and Syracuse, New York, holding storytelling workshops with hundreds of displaced youth: those l A groundbreaking collection of poetry, personal narratives, and art from refugee youth around the world. Foreword by actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller. Beginning in 2018, Ahmed M. Badr—an Iraqi-American poet and former refugee—traveled to Greece, Trinidad & Tobago, and Syracuse, New York, holding storytelling workshops with hundreds of displaced youth: those living in and outside of camps, as well as those adjusting to life after resettlement. Combining Badr’s own poetry with the personal narratives and creative contributions of dozens of young refugees, While the Earth Sleeps We Travel seeks to center and amplify the often unheard perspectives of those navigating through and beyond the complexities of displacement. The result is a diverse and moving collection—a meditation on the concept of "home" and a testament to the power of storytelling.

30 review for While the Earth Sleeps We Travel: Stories, Poetry, and Art from Young Refugees Around the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Heym

    This compendium of the experiences that these young artists lived though is maybe the most REAL thing I’ve read in awhile. Written by young refugees who possess immense talent, that which can only be unfortunately accompanied by their loss. In a recent conversation with a friend, we stumbled upon the topic of how the plight of the people who suffer through tragedies are often either deindividualized or often made the face of that tragedy, no more than a tokenised symbol to perpetuate grief and g This compendium of the experiences that these young artists lived though is maybe the most REAL thing I’ve read in awhile. Written by young refugees who possess immense talent, that which can only be unfortunately accompanied by their loss. In a recent conversation with a friend, we stumbled upon the topic of how the plight of the people who suffer through tragedies are often either deindividualized or often made the face of that tragedy, no more than a tokenised symbol to perpetuate grief and guilt in those who are mere observers.Sometimes, this sorrow is fetishised as people take their stories and add them to their list of high-culture readings only to be deliberated upon at social events. For me, this book makes it all the more real that giving a voice to the people who have actually lived through these experiences is of paramount importance.Giving them back the ability to control their narrative and attentively listening is the least we can do. This book breathed my humanity back into me, it made me analyse my privilege and ignorance. I would urge people to read this and appreciate what we as people can offer each other even in the darkest times. It took me days to read and process this book. Don’t just flip through pages if you choose to pick this up, contemplate and agonise over every syllable and every scribble that went into the making of this book. It will be worth it. Content/Trigger Warnings: War themes, bombings, refugee crisis, poverty, homelessness, gang violence, racism, islamophobia, death, murder. Also mentions- homophobia, drug abuse and drug addiction, trauma,terrorism

  2. 5 out of 5

    Reading_ Tamishly

    An amazing compilation! Wow. A must read for ignorants like myself. I never had this much idea how mistreated refugees around the world are by the media misusing their power and by those who have been fed by these media the misleading news about them. In this compilation, there are stories of refugees who have made a mark for themselves as journalists, artists, philanthropists, teachers, poets and writers, photographers and such amazing professions. The poetry lines are hard-hitting. It just tells An amazing compilation! Wow. A must read for ignorants like myself. I never had this much idea how mistreated refugees around the world are by the media misusing their power and by those who have been fed by these media the misleading news about them. In this compilation, there are stories of refugees who have made a mark for themselves as journalists, artists, philanthropists, teachers, poets and writers, photographers and such amazing professions. The poetry lines are hard-hitting. It just tells you the story each of these people have when in real no one actually tries to listen in real life. Books like this matter a lot. It's books like this that make us know that they are people like us and not someone to be seen as threat and dangerous. Seriously, why are we still this ignorant?! And yes, whenever you think you're smarter than someone else based on their looks and their background, it's you who's actually less smart (I don't want to use the word 'dumb'). Thank you, author/s and the Publisher for the book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    I received an advance reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers. This book is a very raw and real account of what refugees around the world have and are going through in life. The poetry is very real and heart-renching and the artwork is beautiful and deep. The stories really open your eyes and make you experience visually what happens to people that we don't hear about. Thank you for such a real and educational book! I received an advance reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers. This book is a very raw and real account of what refugees around the world have and are going through in life. The poetry is very real and heart-renching and the artwork is beautiful and deep. The stories really open your eyes and make you experience visually what happens to people that we don't hear about. Thank you for such a real and educational book!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Autumn Byrd

    ARC was provided by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This review is being published before the release date (October 13th, 2020) Content/Trigger Warnings: War themes, bombings, refugee crisis, poverty, homelessness, mentions of gang violence, talk of racism, Islamophobia, mentions of terminal illness (cancer), death, murder, mentions of homophobia, mentions of drug abuse and drug addiction, grief, loss of a loved one, trauma, mentions of terrorism ARC was provided by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This review is being published before the release date (October 13th, 2020) Content/Trigger Warnings: War themes, bombings, refugee crisis, poverty, homelessness, mentions of gang violence, talk of racism, Islamophobia, mentions of terminal illness (cancer), death, murder, mentions of homophobia, mentions of drug abuse and drug addiction, grief, loss of a loved one, trauma, mentions of terrorism “Together, we are speaking up and proclaiming to the world that our existence is worthy of its attention.” Friends, I truly cannot express how important this collection is. I truly believe with my whole heart that this collection is a gift that should be talked about so much more. It’s rare when we hear the voices of people who have been severely impacted because of war, violence, and other hardships, but even rarer when they’re children. I think I spent my entire reading experience crying. This book truly is a gift and I hope many readers decide to pick this book up. While the Earth Sleeps We Travel is a collection of poetry, stories, and art by refugees who have been displaced for various reasons, but the most common is war and violence. In this book these people come together to share their hardships, their experiences, hopes, and dreams. From those who are just children to an elderly artist determined to teach their artwork to those who’ll listen, we’ll hear the voices of refugees from a plethora of places. All beautifully expressed on page to be shared with the world. “We have to find out what people like and need and use that to help them towards a better future.” Truly, this book is a gift. It’s heartbreaking, humbling, and encouraging. As I mentioned, I spent the entirety of this book crying because it was so moving. I’ve listed some of the pieces that really stood out and touched the softest part of my heart. ⛰️ Erwin’s Story ⛰️ Lina Habazi’s Story ⛰️ Karem Potela’s Story ⛰️ O’s Story ⛰️ Meteorite Yasan’s Story I truly hope everyone picks this book up and take the time to listen to the voices on the pages in this book. I think this book is going to unravel many people, cause the readers to pause and really take a look at their privilege. I don’t think everyone will appreciate this book, but I think everyone needs to read this book at least once in their life. Overall, this was just a really touching book. I can’t encourage you enough to take the time to pick this book up and hear the voices of these people. Their experiences, their souls have been laid bare for all to read and experience in this book. This is such an important collection and I hope it gets the spotlight that it truly deserves. The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. Blog|Instagram|YouTube|Ko-fi

  5. 4 out of 5

    Beatriz

    I received an advanced reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley. This book contains a groundbreaking collection of poetry, personal narratives, and art from refugees all around the world. It is a very complete book. All the stories feel so genuine and deep. I hope all of these young people are alright and following their dreams. I honestly recommend this book to everyone, so that we can all understand how hard it is to believe everything behind. Rating: 4/5 I received an advanced reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley. This book contains a groundbreaking collection of poetry, personal narratives, and art from refugees all around the world. It is a very complete book. All the stories feel so genuine and deep. I hope all of these young people are alright and following their dreams. I honestly recommend this book to everyone, so that we can all understand how hard it is to believe everything behind. Rating: 4/5 stars.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ghoul Von Horror

    Release Date: Oktober 13th, 2020 Genre: Poetry/Travel Stories Rating: 4 ⭐ What I Liked: The book was good. I liked the combination of his work mixed in with the artwork/pictures of others. The poetry was deep and full of pain and emotion. I could definitely feel his heart with each word. It's a nice collection of words/art/stories. It's not really a standard poetry book. What I Didn't like: I'm not the right audience for this book once I started reading. Right off the bat I had a sour taste in my m Release Date: Oktober 13th, 2020 Genre: Poetry/Travel Stories Rating: 4 ⭐ What I Liked: The book was good. I liked the combination of his work mixed in with the artwork/pictures of others. The poetry was deep and full of pain and emotion. I could definitely feel his heart with each word. It's a nice collection of words/art/stories. It's not really a standard poetry book. What I Didn't like: I'm not the right audience for this book once I started reading. Right off the bat I had a sour taste in my mouth about how the author answered some basic questions people would ask. I suppose it gets annoying answering the same questions but people want to learn.

  7. 5 out of 5

    May Khalil

    What a beautiful way of giving voice to the voiceless; Touching stories of refugees trying to find their voices, through art, poetry and storytelling. + so happy to see the author including a selection of his poems. A personal favorite is: “A thank-you letter from the bomb that visited my home”. In which he invites readers to think about the power of storytelling, by saying and I quote: “What if we rewrote the narrative from the perspective of the thing that hurt us the most. If your tragedy spo What a beautiful way of giving voice to the voiceless; Touching stories of refugees trying to find their voices, through art, poetry and storytelling. + so happy to see the author including a selection of his poems. A personal favorite is: “A thank-you letter from the bomb that visited my home”. In which he invites readers to think about the power of storytelling, by saying and I quote: “What if we rewrote the narrative from the perspective of the thing that hurt us the most. If your tragedy spoke, what would it tell you?” ...A must read!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    **I received and voluntarily read an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.** Even though it could be read in one sitting, I wanted to take my time with this book, since it's an collection of stories, poetry, photographs and artwork by several different young refugees from around the world. Some of the pieces are more touching than others, Some of the artwork is childlike- and that's when you take a moment and realize- these ARE children. Child **I received and voluntarily read an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.** Even though it could be read in one sitting, I wanted to take my time with this book, since it's an collection of stories, poetry, photographs and artwork by several different young refugees from around the world. Some of the pieces are more touching than others, Some of the artwork is childlike- and that's when you take a moment and realize- these ARE children. Children who have been forced to leave their homes and sometimes their families behind. Some of them will never see their families again. Some of the most touching pieces actually had me in tears, but other pieces had me laughing, and still others had me hopeful that even after all they've been through, these people just want to make a difference in the world so no others have to suffer like they did. I don't think everyone will appreciate the heart and soul that have gone into this book, but I do think everyone should read through it at least once. Notable pieces that will stick with me are some of the photographs by Solve Manson, "Naag ska dig (Act Like a Woman" by Khadija Mohamed, some of the artwork by Mirna Aslan and probably the most well known piece from the book, the poem by Ahmed M. Badr "A Thank-You Letter from the Bomb That Visited My Home". There is a poem by Alfahad Tabrizi, "The Anatomy of Tyranny" that is scarily accurate- so much so that it should be published in every paper and online blog until the US elections are over in November 2020. It should be shared and shared again until everyone has read it. Hopefully anyone who reads this poem will stop and think about what they have read. This poem alone is worth the price of the book. Overall, it's an amazing collection that I wish I could award more than 5/5 stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    This book is a gift. It is a gift we have been given by these young people to see just a little deeper into their lives and experiences. These young people show unbelievable strength, vulnerability, insight, courage, curiosity, and resilience. The book recounts unimaginable horrors and trials, but also how people keep going. This book is a collection of poetry, artwork, interviews, and photographs based on the refugee experience. It is humbling, heartbreaking, and encouraging; it is at times unc This book is a gift. It is a gift we have been given by these young people to see just a little deeper into their lives and experiences. These young people show unbelievable strength, vulnerability, insight, courage, curiosity, and resilience. The book recounts unimaginable horrors and trials, but also how people keep going. This book is a collection of poetry, artwork, interviews, and photographs based on the refugee experience. It is humbling, heartbreaking, and encouraging; it is at times uncomfortable to face and reflect on ourselves, but it is at times funny, and beautiful, and simply human. Buy this book, read this book, share it with your friends, your family! "To listen is to learn", and through this book, that is what we have the opportunity to do. I cannot truly understand what I have never lived through, but this is a book that certainly helps bring me a little closer to learning through each contributor's story. It is moving, beautifully compiled, and well written. There is so much talent between these pages. Please read this book. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. But more importantly, thank you to every contributor to this book for your art and stories. My opinions are all my own.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    *Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC* This collection of artwork, writing, poetry, and interviews from young refugees was beautiful, informative, important, hopeful. Every contributor is introduced with a short profile but Badr, the curator, doesn't overdo it, leaving the individual's art to speak for itself. Youth is such an important time that shapes the rest of your life and the experience of being a refugee must have such a larger impact at a young age. This collection really highlights the im *Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC* This collection of artwork, writing, poetry, and interviews from young refugees was beautiful, informative, important, hopeful. Every contributor is introduced with a short profile but Badr, the curator, doesn't overdo it, leaving the individual's art to speak for itself. Youth is such an important time that shapes the rest of your life and the experience of being a refugee must have such a larger impact at a young age. This collection really highlights the importance of family, especially the influence of grandparents in passing on wisdom and traditions. Every story about a grandparent evoked the same feeling I have when I am with my grandmother, a feeling of confident calmness. Many stories describe how there is so much pain from being separated from loved ones and not knowing if you will ever see them again. Most importantly, this book allows you to consider each person as an individual, with their own history, struggle, and hopes for the future. As one of the contributors, Fidaa Aljabbarin, writes, "Do not define us by / Our tragedy / Our pain / Our sorrow / Our people / Our flag(s) / Define us by our / Souls / Stories / The distance between our truth and yours."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Beatriz

    This is one of the most moving books I've read this year. If not ever. A collection of poems, art and stories from many refugees, While the Earth Sleeps We Travel shows a lot of heart and a a lot of people that exist with hearts pumping blood not behind, but above the 'refugee' status. I was reading a poem from a girl half a world away from me, and it made me sad and excited at the same time. She' s not much older than I, and I just wanted to ask if she felt alone too, if she liked the bands tha This is one of the most moving books I've read this year. If not ever. A collection of poems, art and stories from many refugees, While the Earth Sleeps We Travel shows a lot of heart and a a lot of people that exist with hearts pumping blood not behind, but above the 'refugee' status. I was reading a poem from a girl half a world away from me, and it made me sad and excited at the same time. She' s not much older than I, and I just wanted to ask if she felt alone too, if she liked the bands that I liked. Maybe in some life we're friends. That's the magic in this work. Humans are made of stories. And this contains great humans with much to say to the world. This book has people and a message of hope. Take that 2020 - something beautiful was released in chaos. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review. Many thanks to those involved in sharing this with me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Luan Dalmas

    li pelo NetGalley e queria pra mim :( O livro é uma reunião de artes feitas por refugiados do Iraq, Afeganistão, Síria, Venezuela, Sudão, Iran, Bangladesh, Palestina, Quênia e Somália. Artistas crianças, adolescentes e adultos que se expressam através da escrita, pinturas, desenhos e palavras. Tem vários poemas muito bonitos, outros nem tanto; assim como as pinturas. Mas como algum dos artistas (Jafal Osman) diz no livro (em tradução livre): "o ponto não é sempre fazer algo bonito, mas criar arte li pelo NetGalley e queria pra mim :( O livro é uma reunião de artes feitas por refugiados do Iraq, Afeganistão, Síria, Venezuela, Sudão, Iran, Bangladesh, Palestina, Quênia e Somália. Artistas crianças, adolescentes e adultos que se expressam através da escrita, pinturas, desenhos e palavras. Tem vários poemas muito bonitos, outros nem tanto; assim como as pinturas. Mas como algum dos artistas (Jafal Osman) diz no livro (em tradução livre): "o ponto não é sempre fazer algo bonito, mas criar arte que expresse o que você sente" E EU NÃO POSSO CONCORDAR MAIS!!! Isso expressa exatamente o que eu penso e, como um fã do dadaísmo, eu não ligo pra coisa bonita. O autor também é refugiado, e ajudou muitas pessoas com oficinas e plataformas para apresentarem sua arte e isso é muito bonito. O destaque do livro, na minha opinião, é o pintor Jameel Khan e Meteorite Yasan, que faz tapeçaria.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    4.5 I stumbled on this important book, and I really wish it was getting more "buzz." I was drawn to it because I appreciate the healing powers of art and think the artists have vital messages to share. The collection isn’t as sorrowful as I expected and felt honored they shared their message in such an intimate way. The book has artists from all over the world, which makes it even more impactful. As a teacher, I think this could be a great classroom resource considering the relatable age of arti 4.5 I stumbled on this important book, and I really wish it was getting more "buzz." I was drawn to it because I appreciate the healing powers of art and think the artists have vital messages to share. The collection isn’t as sorrowful as I expected and felt honored they shared their message in such an intimate way. The book has artists from all over the world, which makes it even more impactful. As a teacher, I think this could be a great classroom resource considering the relatable age of artists, it would promote empathy and better insight into refugees’ journeys, and also highlight the power of art. (Also, none of the passages are very text heavy.) A unique, vital, and powerful read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    zhane

    5/5 stars! I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This book is so heartbreaking to read. This is the first time I read a book about refugees told by refugees themselves. Most of the people here are either the same age as me or younger, and I just can't imagine that at such a young age they already experienced a lot. I loved all the perspectives and hope each and everyone in this book have and emanates. I 5/5 stars! I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This book is so heartbreaking to read. This is the first time I read a book about refugees told by refugees themselves. Most of the people here are either the same age as me or younger, and I just can't imagine that at such a young age they already experienced a lot. I loved all the perspectives and hope each and everyone in this book have and emanates. I admire their resiliency, but I just can't imagine the heartbreak alongside it as well. I loved all of the artwork, stories, and poetry in this book. This deserved to be read and appreciated by everyone.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    This book was a very real and raw collection of poetry, artwork and writings by young refugees around the world. Words cannot express the emotions that one can feel while encountering these beautiful works presented – the struggles, the hopes, the history, the pain. It was so eye-opening and made me feel like more needs to be done to truly understand the trials refugees, especially young refugees, encounter. I would recommend this book of hope to young adults as required reading. Thank you to Ne This book was a very real and raw collection of poetry, artwork and writings by young refugees around the world. Words cannot express the emotions that one can feel while encountering these beautiful works presented – the struggles, the hopes, the history, the pain. It was so eye-opening and made me feel like more needs to be done to truly understand the trials refugees, especially young refugees, encounter. I would recommend this book of hope to young adults as required reading. Thank you to Netgalley, Andrews McMeel Publishing and Ahmed M. Badr for an advanced copy of this work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jammy

    A really wonderful compilation of artistic works and interviews of refugees to recount their stories and perspectives. The book gives a voice to narratives and points of view that aren't often present in the mainstream media, with parts that will have you both smiling and incredibly sad. Definite recommendation for anyone to broaden your understanding of the people going through the hardship of being forced to leave everything behind. We're all human in the end. A really wonderful compilation of artistic works and interviews of refugees to recount their stories and perspectives. The book gives a voice to narratives and points of view that aren't often present in the mainstream media, with parts that will have you both smiling and incredibly sad. Definite recommendation for anyone to broaden your understanding of the people going through the hardship of being forced to leave everything behind. We're all human in the end.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mercedes Castillo

    A special collection of stories, poetry, and art My heart is with these refugees and of all those in similar situations. I appreciate the work this author did in putting this book together.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Summers

    Amazing beauty out of too much hardship. Give education and food not stuff to refugees. Education is a great equalizer.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jazmyn Dolbin

    The world needs more collections like this of stories, poetry and art from all groups of people, including refugees. "For too long, refugees have not been empowered to share their stories." The world needs more collections like this of stories, poetry and art from all groups of people, including refugees. "For too long, refugees have not been empowered to share their stories."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Fatima Anwar

    This book make me realise how much we don't know about the refugees. This is a beautiful and heartbreaking collection of poetry, photography, poems and art by the Iraqi refugees. I especially loved the poem "psycho". Each art piece has a deep scar and significance in them. I felt intimately connected to the poems. Some artwork left me awe, while the poems had me in tears. The language is easy and simple. This book has alot of significance and importance.It speaks about the section of people, whos This book make me realise how much we don't know about the refugees. This is a beautiful and heartbreaking collection of poetry, photography, poems and art by the Iraqi refugees. I especially loved the poem "psycho". Each art piece has a deep scar and significance in them. I felt intimately connected to the poems. Some artwork left me awe, while the poems had me in tears. The language is easy and simple. This book has alot of significance and importance.It speaks about the section of people, whose pains and suffering are still unknown to the world. The title of this book fits perfectly. The cover is gorgeous and perfectly relays the theme of the book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Barbara C

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sushmitha Seshan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marian

  24. 5 out of 5

    Arella Gussow

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lulu

  26. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

  27. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Dauphin

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ken Bader

  29. 4 out of 5

    Megan Barnes

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paola

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