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Closing soon: BBC’s search for best new spoken word artist

WORDS FIRST: Poet and writer Jude Yawson will mentor finalists on the BBC's spoken word artist scheme (Image: BBC)

IF YOU’RE passionate about spoken word and think you’re one of the best artists in the UK, then the BBC’s new scheme could be your chance to shine.

But you’ll have to be quick. This is the last week to enter, Words First, the BBC’s search for the best new spoken word artists.

Stations BBC Radio 1Xtra and BBC Asian Network and the corporation’s poetry and performance festival, BBC Strong Language, have joined together to develop a scheme to discover and support emerging talent.

Words First is an initiative for those who are passionate about spoken word in any form. Everyone from rappers and MCs to poets and lyricists are welcome to enter.

Interested applicants must submit a short performance video by May 10. Judges will make their decisions based on the originality of the writing and performance as well as the overall passion and potential.

Shortlisted spoken word artists will be chosen to attend one of five free regional workshops in Bristol, Edinburgh, London, Manchester and Newcastle this summer.

Following the regional workshops, where artists will work with established creatives and develop their skills, six finalists will be selected to perform at Contains Strong Language festival in Hull on September 27. The festival will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 1Xtra.

Writer and poet Jude Yawson, who co-wrote and edited Rise Up: The #Merky Story So Far with grime artist Stormzy will provide finalists with guidance and mentoring during the scheme. Applicants will also be supported and mentored by the BBC and book publisher OWN IT!

Yawson said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to get an insight into young minds at a unique point in time. We live in a grand interconnected world which contains a lot of dialogue on things that impact our lives from the public sphere. Although the future belongs to the youth, we rarely get to perceive creativity and their future ambitions articulated purely by themselves. I'm so excited about the talent we are going to unearth which will not only offer a platform to a new generation of creatives, but also spark important conversations about the true meaning of connectivity in the modern age."

In previous years, George The Poet and Kojey Radical have both supported successful candidates on the scheme.

Mark Strippel, head of content commissioning, said: “1Xtra and Asian Network are two of the most important platforms in Britain today for young voices, and Words First has a strong record for discovering new lyrical talent. I think it’s critical that together with Contains Strong Language, we’re able to provide a place for young minds to share personal stories and perspectives that are rarely heard, and we’re really excited to have Jude Yawson as our ambassador this year. His support and guidance will be invaluable.”

For more information and to enter, click here

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