Over the past few years, Stormzy‘s been dedicated to creating opportunities for young people to access spaces too often reserved for those with exclusive educations, useful contacts, or the most money: last summer he announced a sponsorship scheme to send students to Cambridge University, and has recently set up Merky Books, a publishing imprint within Penguin Random House UK.
Now the rapper’s launched the #MerkyBooks New Writers’ Prize, in collaboration with The Good Literary Agency and First Story, which will offer a publishing contract to the “best” new writer of our generation. Open to anyone in the UK and Ireland between the ages of 16 and 30, the competition will accept works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, with the aim of spotlighting stories that currently aren’t being heard in the media or publishing worlds.
The judging panel will include poet Kayo Chingonyi, The Good Literary Agency’s Nikesh Shukla, Cornerstone Managing Director Susan Sandon, and a surprise guest judge alongside Stormzy himself.
“I know too many talented writers that don’t always have an outlet or a means to get their work seen,” Stormzy said of the venture. “Hopefully #Merky books can now be a reference point for them to say ‘I can be an author and for that to be a realistic and achievable goal. Reading and writing as a kid was integral to where I am today and I, from the bottom of my heart, cannot wait to hear your stories and get them out into the big wide world.”
Got a story to tell? Apply here.