Pay for your coffee with a poem

Poetize away on World Poetry Day. It makes the world a better place.

Text: Solveig Hansen, 2017

Poetry is a window onto the breath-taking diversity of humanity.
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

March 21 is World Poetry Day, as declared by UNESCO in 1999. On their website, they write, “Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.”

They also encourage us to recite poems. Here’s a tip: Ask your local coffee shop if you can pay for your coffee with a poem, like you can at Julius Meinl every March 21.

An inspiring trinity: cafés, coffee and poems
Julius Meinl, an Austrian coffee company, has made their own twist and turns poems into currency on World Poetry Day. Like previous years, they again invite their guests in coffee shops all over the world to pay for their coffee (or tea) with a poem come March 21. The initiative is called Pay With a Poem.

In 2016, coffee drinkers in over 1,300 coffee houses in 34 countries wrote a total of 100,000 poems with the red pencils on the red-bordered notes that Julius Meinl provided to match their red coffee cups.


Some had red shoelaces, as well. Picture from Julius Meinl’s Facebook page.

Long tradition
Of course, cafés are not new venues for writers and artists. For more than a century, poets and writers have found their way to these establishments to write, drink and socialize. Pay With a Poem is a modern continuation of that tradition. The typical Viennese coffee house, with its marble tables and a variety of coffees, pastries, and international newspapers, represents social life at its best, Julius Meinl writes on their website.

It is a place where all sorts of individuals meet to discuss their dreams, to reflect on their thoughts, to share their ideas, to compose masterpieces, to read or just to quietly sit and watch our colourful life happen.

So, sharpen your pencils, have a cup of coffee and poetize away. The hashtags are:


Be inspired:


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