Venue: Poetry Arena
Reviewer: Fergus Morgan
Harry Baker, Poetry Slam Champion of the World. One imagines there’s a fair amount of pressure contained in that epithet, but Baker doesn’t show it if there is. In each of his twenty-minute sets in Latitude’s poetry tent, he exudes an easy-going, endearing casualness as he spews his short, sharp, and charmingly sweet pieces with obvious relish.
Baker’s fast-paced, pun-filled work is accessible, entertaining, and technically superb. Paper People, a three-minute extended metaphor on the social machinations of an origami city, is an astonishing burst of alliteration and imagination. It’s the poem that won Baker the ‘poetry slam World Cup’ – as he puts it – back in 2012, and it has lost none of its humour or simple wisdom in the intervening years.
It’s also classic Baker: a work combining technical flair and homely, encouraging philosophy. 59 is a prime number themed love story that is similarly slick and witty, with a similarly heart-warming endorsement of quirkiness at its heart. The same is true of Dinosaur Love and The Scientist And The Bumblebee.
His more ephemeral poetry is no less engaging, though. Falafelloeffel is a rapid-fire tongue-twister about a man obsessed with falafel, and The A-Team Dessert is a superbly funny – and sublimely simple – reworking of Ed Sheeran’s The A-Team, with as many puddings crammed into the lyrics.
Even if there is a stark paucity of new material, Baker is still a poet of obvious talent. He’s going places, and one only hopes that he returns to the Latitude poetry tent as he does.