BBC networks launch search for new spoken word artists

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BBC Radio 1Xtra and BBC Asian Network have launched ‘Words First’ alongside BBC Arts and Contains Strong Language festival, aiming to discover the best emerging spoken word artists from across the UK.

Working together with poetry organisations across the country, the Words First scheme is looking for people who are passionate about spoken word in any form. From rappers and MCs to poets and lyricists, anyone with an interest in developing their spoken word skills can apply until 19 June.

In previous years, shortlisted artists would attend regional workshops in person. However, this year’s scheme will have a digital focus. Entries, workshops, mentoring and the showcases will be conducted using video conferencing to engage and support performers from across the UK.

Selected artists will be mentored and supported by the BBC and a network of regional poetry organisations throughout the UK including Young Identity, Apples & Snakes, and Neu! Reekie!

Mark Strippel, head of programmes at 1Xtra and Khaliq Meer, acting head of programmes for Asian Network, say: “1Xtra and Asian Network are two leading UK platforms for young minds to authentically express their evolving identities and constantly changing lives. We’re thrilled to come together again for Words First to create new spaces and opportunities for fresh voices to flourish and be heard, especially during these challenging times.”

Jonty Claypole, director of BBC Arts, said: “The rise of spoken word in Britain is one of the great cultural stories of the 21st century: full of honesty, ingenuity and beautiful acts of self-expression. Words First shines a spotlight on some of the greatest of those artists, as well as the extraordinary organisations who support them. In the current emergency, it is more important than ever to have those voices speaking the truth about Britain today on our airwaves and digital platforms.”

Sue Roberts, director of BBC Arts’ Contains Strong Language festival, said: “Over the past three years, BBC Arts’ Contains Strong Language has made a name for itself as a festival that gives a platform to emerging talent alongside established poets. CSL is delighted to be working again with BBC Radio 1Xtra and BBC Asian Network to offer a new group of emerging artists this exciting opportunity.”

For more information about how to enter and full terms and conditions, visit the Words First website

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