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  • My name is Harry Baker. Harry Baker is my name.

  • If your name was Harry Baker, then our names would be the same.

  • (Laughter)

  • It's a short introductory part.

  • Yeah, I'm Harry.

  • I study maths. I write poetry.

  • So I thought I'd start with a love poem about prime numbers.

  • (Laughter)

  • This is called "59."

  • I was going to call it "Prime Time Loving."

  • That reaction is why I didn't.

  • (Laughter)

  • So, "59."

  • 59 wakes up on the wrong side of the bed.

  • Realizes all his hair is on one side of his head.

  • Takes just under a minute to work out that it’s because of the way that he slept.

  • He finds some clothes and gets dressed.

  • He can’t help but look in the mirror and be subtly impressed

  • How he looks rough around the edges and yet casually messed.

  • And as he glances out the window, he sees the sight that he gets blessed with

  • of 60 from across the street.

  • Now 60 was beautiful.

  • With perfectly trimmed cuticles, dressed in something suitable.

  • Never rude or crude at all.

  • Unimprovable, right on time as usual, more on cue than a snooker ball

  • but liked to play it super cool.

  • 59 wanted to tell her that he knew her favorite flower.

  • He thought of her every second, every minute, every hour.

  • But he knew it wouldn’t work, he’d never get the girl.

  • Because although she lived across the street

  • they came from different worlds.

  • While 59 admired 60’s perfectly round figure,

  • 60 thought 59 was odd. (Laughter)

  • One of his favorite films was "101 Dalmatians."

  • She preferred the sequel.

  • He romanticized the idea they were star-crossed lovers.

  • They could overcome the odds and evens because they had each other.

  • While she maintained the strict views imposed on her by her mother

  • That separate could not be equal.

  • And though at the time he felt stupid and dumb

  • For trying to love a girl controlled by her stupid mum,

  • He should have been comforted by the simple sum.

  • Take 59 away from 60, and youre left with the one.

  • Sure enough after two months of moping around,

  • 61 days later, 61 was who he found,

  • He had lost his keys and his parents were out.

  • So one day after school he went into a house

  • As he noticed the slightly wonky numbers on the door,

  • He wondered why he’d never introduced himself before,

  • As she let him in, his jaw dropped in awe.

  • 61 was like 60, but a little bit more. (Laughter)

  • She had prettier eyes, and an approachable smile,

  • And like him, rough around the edges, casual style,

  • And like him, everything was in disorganized piles,

  • And like him, her mum didn’t mind if friends stayed a while.

  • Because she was like him, and he liked her.

  • He reckoned she would like him if she knew he was like her,

  • And it was different this time. I mean, this girl was wicked,

  • So he plucked up the courage and asked for her digits.

  • She said, "I'm 61." He grinned, said, "I'm 59."

  • Today I’ve had a really nice time,

  • So tomorrow if you wanted you could come over to mine?

  • She said, "Sure."

  • She loved talking to someone just as quirky,

  • She agreed to this unofficial first date.

  • In the end he was only ready one minute early,

  • But it didn’t matter because she arrived one minute late.

  • And from that moment on there was nonstop chatter,

  • How they loved "X Factor," how they had two factors,

  • How that did not matter, distinctiveness made them better,

  • By the end of the night they knew they were meant together.

  • And one day she was talking about stuck-up 60,

  • She noticed that 59 looked a bit shifty.

  • He blushed, told her of his crush:

  • The best thing that never happened because it led to us.”

  • 61 was clever, see, not prone to jealousy,

  • She looked him in the eyes and told him quite tenderly,

  • "Youre 59, I’m 61, together we combine to become twice what 60 could ever be."

  • (Laughter)

  • 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.

  • Cheers.

  • (Applause)

  • That was the first poem that I wrote

  • and it was for a prime number-themed poetry night -- (Laughter) --

  • 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. (Laughter)

  • 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.

  • (Laughter)

  • 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."

  • (Laughter)

  • 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.

  • (Laughter)

  • 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.

  • (Laughter)

  • So...

  • (Applause)

  • 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.

  • (Laughter)

  • 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.

  • (Laughter) Paper.

  • 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’d 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,

  • theyre naming names, forgetting these are names of people,

  • because in the end it all comes down to people.

  • I like people.

  • 'Cause even when the situation’s dire,

  • it is only ever people who are able to inspire,

  • and on paper, it’s hard to see how we all cope.

  • But in the bottom of Pandora’s box there’s still hope,

  • and I still hope 'cause I believe in people.

  • People like my grandparents.

  • Who every single day since I was born,

  • have taken time out of their morning to pray for me.

  • That’s 7892 days straight of someone checking I’m okay,

  • and that’s amazing.

  • People like my aunt who puts on plays with prisoners.

  • People who are capable of genuine forgiveness.

  • People like the persecuted Palestinians.

  • People who go out of their way to make your life better,

  • and expect nothing in return.

  • You see, people have potential to be powerful.

  • Just because the people in power tend to pretend to be victims

  • we don’t need to succumb to that system.

  • And a paper population is no different.

  • There’s a little paper me. And a little paper you.

  • And in a pop-up population people's problems pop up too,

  • but even if the whole world fell apart then we’d still make it through.

  • Because were people.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you very much. I've just got time for one more.

  • For me, poetry has been the ultimate way of ideas without frontiers.

  • When I first started,

  • the people who inspired me were the ones with the amazing stories,

  • and I thought, as an 18-year-old with a happy life, it was too normal,

  • but I could create these worlds where I could talk about my experiences

  • and dreams and beliefs.

  • So it's amazing to be here in front of you today.

  • Thank you for being here.

  • If you weren't here,

  • it would be pretty much like the sound check yesterday.

  • (Laughter)

  • And this is more fun.

  • So this last one is called "The Sunshine Kid."

  • Thank you very much for listening.

  • Old man sunshine was proud of his sun,

  • And it brightened his day to see his little boy run,

  • Not because of what he’d done, nor the problems overcome,

  • But that despite that his disposition remained a sunny one.

  • It hadn’t always been like this.

  • There’d been times when he’d tried to hide his brightness,

  • You see, every star hits periods of hardship,

  • It takes a brighter light to inspire them through the darkness.

  • If we go back to when he was born in a nebula,

  • We know that he never was thought of as regular,

  • Because he had a flair about him,

  • To say the Midas touch is wrong

  • But all he went near seemed to turn a little bronze,

  • Yes this sun was loved by some more than others,

  • It was a case of Joseph and his dreamcoat and his brothers

  • Because standing out from the crowd had its pros and its cons,

  • And jealousy created enemies in those he outshone

  • Such as the Shadow People.

  • Now the Shadow People didn’t like the Sunshine Kid,

  • Because he showed up the dark things the Shadow People did,

  • And when he shone he showed the places where the Shadow People hid,

  • So the Shadow People had an evil plan to get rid of him,

  • First up -- they made fun of his sunspots,

  • Shooting his dreams from the sky, their words were gunshots,

  • Designed to remind him he wasn’t very cool

  • And he didn’t fit in with any popular kids at school.

  • They said his head was up in space and they would bring him down to Earth,

  • Essentially he came from nothing and that is what he was worth,

  • He’d never get to go to university to learn,

  • Only degrees he’d ever show would be the first degree burns

  • From those that came too close,

  • they told him he was too bright,

  • That’s why no one ever looked him in the eyes,

  • His judgment became clouded

  • So did the sky, With evaporated tears

  • as the sun started to cry.

  • Because the sunshine kid was bright, with a warm personality,

  • And inside he burned savagely

  • Hurt by the words and curses of the shadowy folk