The New Writers' prize will "promote the stories that aren't being heard" and "find the best writer of a generation."
Stormzy has launched competition through his #Merky Books to find talented young writers.
Done though his Penguin Random House imprint which helps young writers get published, the competition is open to writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry aged between 16 and 30. Entrants must be unpublished, unrepresented and from the UK or Republic of Ireland.
The grime artist hopes the prize will help young new writers break into the tough industry.
“I know too many talented writers that don’t always have an outlet or a means to get their work seen,” said Stormzy. “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.”
The winner will receive a publishing contract with #Merky Books and become a client of Good Literary Agency.
“Reading and writing as a kid was integral to where I am today,” he continued. “I, from the bottom of my heart, cannot wait to hear your stories and get them out into the bigger world.”
The artist released his memoir last November, when 25-year-old Jude Yawson co-authored Rise Up: A #Merky Story So Far.
The young writer is a figure from Stormzy’s days as an aspiring grime MC in south-east London. He supported Yawson’s work back then, just as Yawson paid attention to his freestyles. “One thing I noticed is he would always thank everybody who supported him – back when he was nowhere,” said Yawson.
‘Rise Up’ was the first book of the #Merky empire, which also includes a record label and festival.
The New Writers’ competition judges will be Stormzy, co-founder of Good Literary Agency and The Good Immigrant editor Nikesh Shukla. Author Yrsa Daley-Ward, poet Kayo Chingonyi and Penguin Random House UK’s Susan Sandon will join the panel. Applications are open here until April 12. The prize is in collaboration with The Good Literary Agency and charity First Story.
Stormzy is no stranger to helping foster young talent. Last August, he announced scholarships for black British students to study at the University of Cambridge. This funded two students starting in 2018 and will fund two more this year.
“In school and college I had the ability and was almost destined to go to one of the top universities,” Stormzy told Radio 1 Newsbeat. “But that didn’t happen for myself … so hopefully there’s another young black student out there that can have that opportunity through my scholarship.”
Meanwhile, Stormzy’s next major UK gig will be headlining Glastonbury 2019. Today, the rest of the line-up was announced with The Cure and The Killers set to join him at the top of the bill.