Grand Slam Poetry Champion Harry Baker at TEDxExeter (Full Transcript)

At this point 59 had tears in his eyes,

Was so glad to have this one-of-a-kind girl in his life.

He told her the very definition of being prime

Was that with only one and himself could his heart divide,

And she was the one he wanted to give his heart to,

She said she felt the same and now she knew the films were half true.

Because that wasn’t real love, that love was just a sample,

When it came to real love, they were a prime example.


That was the first poem that I wrote and it was for a prime number-themed poetry night which turned out to be a prime number-themed poetry competition. And I became a prime number-themed poetry competition winner, or as I like to call it, a prime minister. And this is how I discovered these things called poetry slams, and if you don’t know what a poetry slam is, it was a format come up with in America 30 years ago as a way of tricking people into going to poetry events by putting an exciting word like “slam” on the end.

And each performer got three minutes to perform and then random audience members would hold up scorecards, and they would end up with a numerical score, and what this meant is, it kind of broke down the barrier between performer and audience and encouraged the kind of connection with the listener. And what it also means is you can win. And if you win a poetry slam, you can call yourself a slam champion and pretend you’re a wrestler, and if you lose a poetry slam you can say, “Oh, what? Poetry’s a subjective art form, you can’t put numbers on such things.”

But I loved it, and I got involved in these slams, and I became the U.K. slam champion and got invited to the Poetry World Cup in Paris, which was unbelievable. It was people from all around the world speaking in their native languages to be judged by five French strangers.


And somehow, I won, which was great, and I’ve been able to travel the world since doing it, but it also means that this next piece is technically the best poem in the world. So — according to five French strangers.

So this is “Paper People.”

I like people.

I’d like some paper people.

They’d be purple paper people.

Maybe pop-up purple paper people.


Proper pop-up purple paper people.

“How do you prop up pop-up purple paper people?”

I hear you cry. Well I…

I’d probably prop up proper pop-up purple paper people

With a proper pop-up purple people paperclip,


But I’d pre-prepare appropriate adhesives as alternatives,

A cheeky pack of Blu Tack just in case the paper slipped.

Because I could build a pop-up metropolis.

But I wouldn’t wanna deal with all the paper people politics.

Paper politicians with their paper-thin policies,

Broken promises without appropriate apologies.


There’d be a little paper me. And a little paper you.

And we could watch paper TV and it would all be pay-per-view.

We’d see the poppy paper rappers rap about their paper package

Or watch paper people carriers get stuck in paper traffic on the A4.


There’d be a paper princess Kate but we’d all stare at paper Pippa,


And then we’d all live in fear of killer Jack the Paper-Ripper,

Because the paper propaganda propagates the people’s prejudices,

Papers printing pictures of the photogenic terrorists.

A little paper me. And a little paper you.

And in a pop-up population people’s problems pop up too.


There’d be a pompous paper parliament who remained out of touch,

And who ignored the people’s protests about all the paper cuts,

Then the peaceful paper protests would get blown to paper pieces,

By the confetti cannons manned by pre-emptive police.

And yes there’s still be paper money, so there’d still be paper greed,

And the paper piggy bankers pocketing more than they need,


Purchasing the potpourri to pepper their paper properties,

Others live in poverty and ain’t acknowledged properly.

A proper poor economy where so many are proper poor,

But while their needs are ignored the money goes to big wars.

Origami armies unfold plans for paper planes

And we remain imprisoned in our own paper chains,

But the greater shame is that it always seems to stay the same,

What changes is who’s in power choosing how to lay the blame,

They’re naming names, forgetting these are names of people,

Because in the end it all comes down to people.

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By Pangambam S

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