Watch the video of Harry Baker’s performance at TEDxExeter 2014.
Scroll down the page for biographical information and news.
Video and Live blogging
And now for our first performance, from world champion slam poet and maths student.
Harry’s starting with a love poem about prime numbers, called 59. In summary: 59 loved 60 from afar, but 60 thought 59 was… odd. And then 60 met 61, who was like 60, but a little bit more. Together, 59 and 61 combined to become twice what 60 could ever be. A prime example of love!
Through writing this his first poem, Harry discovered poetry slams. Poetry slams are a way of tricking people to attend poetry readings by putting an exciting word like ‘slam’ on the end. Being slam world champion means that his next poem is technically the best poem in the world, according to five French strangers: proper pop-up purple paper people. There’s no way I can blog it, so here’s a video.
Poetry is Harry’s way of investigating worlds without frontiers. His last poem today is about the Sunshine Kid, who had a sunny disposition and had a flare about him. But the shadow people made fun of his sunspots. He struggled at school – being too bright – and his judgment became clouded, and he let his light be eclipsed. And then came Little Miss Sunshine, who was hot stuff and told him we are all stars. Not all the darkness in the world can put out the light from a single candle. Astrophysics in motion!
…and Harry got the first (I may say well-deserved) standing ovation of the day, led by none other than fellow speaker Vinay Nair!
We’re thrilled that Harry Baker’s grand slam poetry performance at TEDxExeter 2014 has been selected to feature on TED.com. This is a huge achievement. Under 1% of TEDx talks make it on to TED, and this choice is testament to Harry and his fantastic performance last year. His performance has already gone viral and been viewed nearly 169,000 times. Going onto TED.com means his poetry will reach a potentially global audience.
Harry is understandably excited…
VAGUELY THOUGHT OUT SERIOUS QUOTE:
I couldn’t be happier right now. I have always written my poems to be performed and shared with people, the fact that so many people now get to see the words that started out scribbled in my notebooks and performed in pubs is amazing.
I am in my final term of a maths degree at university and when I graduate I want to be a full-time writer, so this is a massive step in making that dream a reality, both in terms of confidence in what I’m doing being worth it, and the practical nature or more people becoming aware of my work.
It’s hard to explain to people what I do, it’s far easier to show them. Now I feel I have the best possible way of doing that.
^^^^ that is 100% true and sincere and genuine but almost feels a bit measured (aka boring) for what is maybe the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me so umm…
HOW I REALLY FEEL:
This is nuts. It’s crazy stupid brilliant nuts. When I got the email I was in an Algebraic Number Theory lecture on a Monday morning and I wanted to scream but I don’t think anyone would have understood. I love what I do. I want to do it forever. I’m going to do it forever. I loved performing at TEDxExeter because it felt like what I had to say was important. I was doing the same poems that I’ve performed to audiences of 6 people in a pub basement and I was performing them in-between a guy who invents robot hands and a woman who had triplets and then went to both the North and South Pole. That’s fun. Now it’s going on the main site with the crazy beatbox guy and Bono. I’m really happy.
I write stuff to try and connect with people, I always have. It being shared on TED.com just means it connects with a whole lot more people overnight and hopefully can continue to in the future.
Life is exciting.
Finally, we welcome Harry back. He starts with a haiku: “Went to Chinatown / There were too many bright lights / Asked them to dimsum.”
His first poem is dedicated to the pun-tastic Jason Doner Van in Bristol, and is about his first week at university and pole-dancing. Like last year, it’s impossible to blog. Yes, I’m a cop-out!
He grew up in London, and one of the best things about growing up in London is that everywhere else seems relatively friendly! He is studying in Bristol, which is also relatively close to the beach. So the next poem is called Weston-Super-Nightmare, about a university trip there in February.
He’s tired of telling people who ask that he is studying Maths and German, and then mumbling about doing something to do with poetry next. So now he wants to shout loud about how he will be doing something he loves and being adventurous with it, and like everyone today will be trying to make the world a little better. Because why not?
Harry is about to graduate with a Maths degree from the University of Bristol. In his time there he has won the Poetry Slam World Cup; written and performed a 5-Star sellout Edinburgh Fringe show; accidentally become an international rap battler; learnt to write poems in German as well as English; had his work published on TED.com; and released his first anthology of poems ‘The Sunshine Kid’ (available at harrybaker.co). He is looking forward to the next set of adventures!
News about Harry Baker
First, Harry Baker is at the Edinburgh Fringe with his Sunshine Kid show THIS WEEK, until Saturday 29th August.
And second, his performance at TEDxExeter 2014 “A love poem for lonely prime numbers” on TED.com has just hit a million views. How they translate his wonderful wordplay, I don’t know, but the transcript is now also available in 14 languages.
More TED.com statistics:
- Karima Bennoune’s talk “When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism” has been viewed more than 1.3m times, and the transcript is available in 23 languages.
- Scilla Elworthy’s talk “Fighting with nonviolence” has been viewed more than 1m times, and is available in 31 languages.
- Bandi Mbubi’s talk “Demand a fair trade cell phone” has been viewed more than 500,000 times, and is available in 28 languages.
Congratulations to Scilla Elworthy, whose talk on “Fighting with nonviolence” has now been watched more than 1 million times on TED.com!
“How do you deal with a bully without becoming a thug? In this wise and soulful talk, peace activist Scilla Elworthy maps out the skills we need — as nations and individuals — to fight extreme force without using force in return. To answer the question of why and how nonviolence works, she evokes historical heroes — Aung San Suu Kyi, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela — and the personal philosophies that powered their peaceful protests.”
Subtitles are available in 31 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Persian, several Far East and Southeast Asian, and many European languages.
Also, at the time of writing,
- Karima Bennoune’s talk on “When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism” has been watched 1,279,000 times, with subtitles available in 23 languages
- Harry Baker’s “A love poem for lonely prime numbers” 785,000 times, with subtitles in 9 languages [how do they do that?!]
- and Bandi Mbubi’s impassioned plea to “Demand a fair trade cell phone” 520,000 times, with subtitles in 28 languages.
The videos of the talks at TEDxExeter are just being finalised before being uploaded. We hope they’ll be available in about a week.
“An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises” said Mae West. We think that to announce our performers is worth quite a bit too. We haven’t quite finalised the line-up yet, but here are a couple of good’uns.
First, we are really looking forward to hearing Kieron Kirkland talk about the intertwining of magic and technology. He will also be weaving some of his magic live on stage, so prepare to be perplexed, befuddled and amazed.
And we’re also delighted that, fresh from being featured on TED.com and being viewed more than half a million times, Harry Baker has agreed to return to TEDxExeter this year! As one of the comments on TED.com said: “Just an absolute artisan with his words, bravo! The first one entertained me, the second made me think and the last one made me feel (brought a tear to my eye). Quite amazing the power that words can have.”