Margate wordsmith is named Kent Poetry champion

Harry Baker and his poetry champ belt

Harry Baker, Margate’s newest poetry resident and World Poetry Slam champion, has won the inaugural Kentish Poetry Championship title.

The 26-year-old has recently turned heads with his performance at the Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate.

In his first Margate poetry slam –  a competitive format that pits poets against each other –  Harry has earned himself another accolade in a career of accomplishments.

As part of the Margate Bookie literary festival, Harry had previously played for the crowd in a surprise show at Turner Contemporary with his musical partner, Chris Read.

Performing at The Dug Out on Margate’s seafront, Harry was one of 11 poets competing for the belt, resulting in a sudden-death final against eventual runner-up Louise O’Connell.

The championship, brainchild of local poet and publisher Connor Sansby, will be defended at poetry shows around Kent and marks the first of a number of projects designed to attract new  attention to the growing Kent poetry scene.

Connor said: “Kent has a few hundred participants in our poetry community but we exist as this strange niche underground. Projects like this are about giving us something to talk about besides our poetry, and showing people that poetry isn’t just about writers who died hundreds of years ago. It’s fun, dynamic and extremely relevant.”

Harry is looking forward to his first title defence, to be announced in the coming weeks.

He said: “Slams were a huge part of why I ended up getting involved in poetry in the first place, and being a relative newbie to Margate and Kent as a whole I was delighted to win the Margate Bookie Slam, especially alongside such brilliant local talent – and with a new poem inspired by and written since moving here and feeling accepted as part of the local community.”

Andreas Loizou, founder of the Margate Bookie festival, added: ‘Having more than 100 people at the slam proves that Margate is top of the premier league for poetry. Big names – like Louis de Bernieres, Salena Godden and Richard Skinner – want to gig in Margate and share their knowledge.’

Updates on the championship can be found at