Five star shows at Edinburgh. Worldwide tours. A published book of poetry. World Poetry Slam champion. A podcast, and fans everywhere. Young Harry Baker has achieved a great deal over the past few years, somehow managing to get a degree in Maths

and German at the same time as developing an incredible skills in wordplay and performance. These days he plays gigs, does rap battles and TED talks, school workshops and literary festivals – you can’t keep a good poet (with fans including Scroobius Pip and Kate Tempest) down. I spoke to him ahead of this third visit to Norwich Cathedral within three years.

You’ve since performed two shows there yourself which have been awarded five stars. What did you do to get your foot on the ladder and make your dreams a reality? I started off going to open mic and getting to know people who were doing what I wanted to be doing. I’ve never been comfortable with or particularly good at ‘networking’ but I found it helpful to see people further along the path than I was to see what was possible. Te first time I went up to Edinburgh I was performing to six people in the audience some days so it can feel like a bit of a grind, but I’ve always loved the opportunity to get on stage so even those ones stand out as formative experiences. If you love words so much and are so talented in using them, how come you chose to do maths at uni? Is there a connection between maths and poetry for you?


Poetry was always something fun I did on the side and I liked maths too so it wasn’t

ou first saw some poetry being performed at Edinburgh Festival.

a difficult choice to study at uni. As I’ve gone on I’ve found definite links between the two such as the search for truth sand the satisfaction that comes form solving an equation or coming up with a decent line, but part of the joy is they stimulate different parts of my brain I think. You were the youngest ever World Poetry Slam Champion in 2012. How did it feel to win that – did it spur you on or put a lot of pressure on you to do better and better? It felt good! At the time I was still studying so it was the first time I seriously considered pursuing it as a career. At the same time most people had never heard of the competition so it was more of a personal milestone than suddenly being given loads of gigs, but it definitely spurred me on to want to do more. Scroobius Pip, Ed Sheeran, Scott Mills and Kate Tempest are all fans of your work, which must mean a lot to you. Who do you admire in the poetry and rap worlds? Kate has been a hero for a long time, as much for the work she produces as the way she holds herself. My favourite at the moment is Hollie McNish

– again, I love her poems but also the way she approaches it I find very inspiring. In terms of rap, Kendrick Lamar is my all time fave as he knits his technical ability and attention to detail with interesting content. You now do school workshops, literature festivals and play all over the world. What do you think it is about one of your shows, or your world in general, that excites and moves people so much? What excites me when I see performers is feeling like I know them just by watching them from the crowd. I hope that this comes across because I think my shows convey the pure joy I have for language and my outlook on the world, but also combine humour with more serious parts. I’m incredibly grateful to have the platform that I do to share my work and each gig seems to lead on to others! Can you share with us your favourite line you’ve ever written? It constantly changes. Te most tongue in cheek one I perform is from my version of Ed Sheeran’s A Team all about dessert, where after a string

of pudding-based puns about a break up I say “meringue - but you never rang back” and every time I can’t believe I get away with it. Tis will be the third time you’ll have played at Norwich Cathedral in as many years – we love you in our fine city! What are your plans for the next year? I love coming back! Coming up this year me and Chris are previewing our Edinburgh show at the Cathedral and then taking it on a tour in the autumn. I’m also working on my second collection of solo poems that I’m hoping to bring out next year, while keeping up a monthly night, Joyride, that I run with Chris in London, and things like the podcast. Tere’re also big plans in terms of my personal life but not sure I can go into too much detail yet!

LIZZ PAGE Read this interview in full at

INFORMATION Harry Baker will perform with Chris Read and Gecko at Norwich Cathedral on 16th June, tickets available from


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