Thursday, 8 November 2012

Q&A With World & National Slam Champion Harry Baker

Harry Baker is odd… he’s a poet even through he was born in the 90’s. Actually he’s more than that, he’s the UK, European and World Slam champion and he’s doing a set at Chill Pill on 29th November at The Albany

When on tour in Germany almost everybody knew Harry Baker, he’s referred to as “the perfect Slam Poet” and I don’t think anyone can disagree. I caught up with him to interrogate this young poetry star. 

Q1. Even though I’ve seen you wear orange tights you’re a pretty cool dude…. how can people adopt the swagger of a young poet? 

Thanks - my edinburgh show this year involved the tights, some tartan trousers and a dressing gown amongst other things... I think if you're trying to be a cool poet you're doing it wrong. I generally go for the shy awkward teenager vibes… it takes years of practice.

Q2. When you and Keith Jarrett (former UK Slam Champion) went back to back at Chill Pill, that was magic and I remember watching that thinking “that’s how you know they’re both Slam Champions… what makes a good Slam Poet? 

 That was a good night - I'm looking forward to the next one! I used to think you made a good slam poet f your poems happened to be around 3 minutes long, but as I've seen more of it there are common themes. Partly you've gotta have something to say. Once you get to a certain level as a spoken word artist/poet/whateveryouwannacallit you can make anything sound nice but with slam here's a definite message behind it, you've only got to look at all the big political American slam poetry to see that. For me it's more about being aware of your audience. Make them laugh, or cry, or shiver, or wet themselves.. Slam works because they have a say, if you've just spent 3 minutes listing everyone you have had or want to have sex with etc (I've seen some weird ones) then quite right they can give you 3 out of 10.
Harry Baker is not rubbish
Q3. You’re like 19 man…. Wtf?

20 now! I love that I've got into it this young. Managed to do a gap year of open mics and saying yes to every gig, i did 12 festivals over the summer and 2 shows a day at the fringe, and I'm currently doing 17 gigs this November (all building up to the fabulous chill pill) so Its not like Im inexperienced, but i guess it means I'm funding it from a student loan rather than arts council grants.. and I'm still doing it because i love it. 

Q4. If your poetry was a wrestler what would it’s special move be?

Beach elbow. (Ray wishes Harry said "The Proper Pop -Up, Purple, Paper People's Elbow)

Q5. Edinburgh Festival had its first official Spoken Word programming; you were at Edinburgh and had great success, you working on a show? 

 I've done two shows in the last two years, both went fantastically, you hear all sorts of horror stories about having audiences of 2 people and losing loads of money but everything fell in place nicely. I think I'm going to have a year off next year - make the most of the 'world champion' title and go back to the states where they care about such things, then by 2014 I'll have potentially had a year in Germany and have something new to say. 

Q6. Wtf! I just tried to tweet you! Did you UNFOLLOW me on twitter? 

Gosh. yes, it was either too profound for my tiny head to comprehend or things that you tweet like this - “That moment in the barbers when you have an itch on your head & the barber runs over the spot with the razor #Bliss” 

Q7. It's true! I thought that was kinda profound... anyway, you’re studying medicine.. or was it maths? either way you’re a bit of a brainiac and you’re being a poet. Don’t your parents think you’re wasting yourself? 

Maths and German. I was going to study medicine but got into poetry so the obvious choice was to switch to math’s. I think my parents were relieved because if you're good at science at school they try force it on you but it wasn't for me. There's 4 people for every place doing medicine so someone far better would've taken my place, but if i don't write poems about dinosaurs and dessert, who will? My parents are incredible. I remember first seeing poets do incredible pieces about how their dad's weren't there for them and thinking my life was too boring to write about in comparison so stuck with prime numbers and bees for a while. But they're fully supportive and have got into it, My dad even quotes kate tempest in the foreward to his latest book! 

Q8. Finally Harry, if it breaks will Jim fix it? 

ummm no? Obama might.

Follow Harry Baker on twitter - @harrybakerpoet
website -

Again, come see Harry alongside Lyric L & The Albany Poets at Chill Pill on 29th November!
We tend to sell out so book advance tickets here

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