18-year old rapper-turned-poet on a whirlwind adventure since winning the Edinburgh Fringe festival Poetry Slam. Telling stories and rhymes with positive messages to make the heart go warm and the skin go cold. Has made listeners laugh and cry within the same minute, and entertained audiences of all ages with raps about Lego, poems about prime numberss and some spoken word sunshine.
see more at www.youtube.com/harrybakerpoetry.
How old were you when you first started writing poetry?
I've been rhyming since I was a kid - just for the fun of it, then started off rapping through secondary school. When I was 13 I won a poetry competition for £100 worth of chocolate, but apart from that I'd say I wrote my first poem worthy to perform out around 17.
What inspired you to become a poet?
It just kind of happened - It was that time at school where everyone was joining bands and I didn't sing or play guitar so decided to rap, I'd always liked words. Then I went to an open mic and performed one of my raps without any music, realised there was a lot more freedom that came with that and a poet was born - since then I can't get enough of it.
Where do you find inspiration?
All over the place, it can come from nowhere, but most regularly it's from other artists - I always find myself writing frantically after going to a gig of some of my favourite artists, the Kate Tempests, Polarbears and Dizraelis of this world.
Which of your poems is your favourite and why?
At the moment it's one called 'Real Men Cry', I was very wary while writing it because it touches on the Australian Floods and I didn't want to trivialise that, but feel I got a good balance of humour and seriousness. Usually my favourite is my most recent poem because it's the one I've performed least so is still exciting, and if it's good it is a relief that I'm not going downhill already!
Do you have a special place you write?
Up until recently I did a paper round so that's where I'd write most of my stuff - out on my bike at 6:30 in the morning. Otherwise there's a tree in the park near me I like to climb up, otherwise on the London Underground to and from gigs.
Did you attend enter any events/competitions in 2010?
Yes! Quite a few, this is arguably how I got where I am today. I entered the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Poetry Slam in the summer of 2010, and came joint first with a wicked poet Mark Grist. Before this I wouldn't have called myself a poet but got the bug for it there so entered (and won) all sorts of competitions and poetry slams when I got back. Farrago and Hammer and Tongue put on the main slams in London, and I became the Farrago London Slam champion, meaning I got to go to France representing the UK in December. Madness.
What is your greatest (poetry) success to date?
Well aside from winning £100 worth of chocolate at the age of 13 (how can you top that!?) I think I can call myself the European Slam Poetry Champion. After the competition in France between 12 countries and one of the best weeks of my life meeting amazing poets from different countries, it went to an online vote and I managed to have more facebook friends/spam more people than anyone else and ended up winning that.
You're a young poet, do you see a long future in poetry and performance?
Hopefully - I'm having a minor life crisis with it at the moment. I'm on a gap year so was kind of experimenting with spoken word and performing poetry, but have since fallen in love with it and want to try and do it a lot more, so trying to work out career/lifestyle choices that will fit with that.
Do you have a favourite poet, if so, why?
I keep seeing new talented poets that I think are my favourites, but consistently it would be Kate Tempest. Seeing someone with such a passion and craft is very inspiring, and some of the lyrics send shivers down your spine. Especially when after seeing the same poem done for the 5th time and it is still as raw and as fresh, I don't think that is an easy thing to do by any means.
Do you have any projects in the pipeline you'd like to share with us?
Well next for me is a trip to the USA, hopefully conquering the international scene representing the UK, but mainly on a 'poetry holiday' to experience some of the excitement and energy only seen on youtube as of yet - and also a pilgrimage to the home of slam poetry, the Green Mill in Chicago.
Then after that I'm going to be doing some 'poetry music videos' for some pieces, playing round with the visual side of things, and then hopefully appearing in Edinburgh Fringe at some point. After that - who knows?