The Global Human: Social Comments

Pay for your coffee with a poem

Posted in Poetry by Solveig Hansen on 2016/03/18

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

Text: Solveig Hansen

By paying tribute to the men and women whose only instrument is free speech, who imagine and act, UNESCO recognizes in poetry its value as a symbol of the human spirit’s creativity. By giving form and words to that which has none – such as the unfathomable beauty that surrounds us, the immense suffering and misery of the world – poetry contributes to the expansion of our common humanity, helping to increase its strength, solidarity and self-awareness.

– (Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO)

March 21 is World Poetry Day, as declared by UNESCO in 1999. This is an opportunity for you to join others and post your poems all over the social media. Or, be a conscious citizen and join PEN International in taking action for imprisoned Kazakh poet, journalist and social activist Aron Atabek. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2007, following a protest against the demolishing of the shantytown of Shanyrak.

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 last year, they again invite their guests in coffee shops all over the world to pay for their coffee with a poem come March 21. The initiative is called Pay With a Poem.

In 2015, over 100,000 coffee drinkers in 1,153 coffee houses in 27 countries participated and wrote their 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.

Unfortunately, the poems are not published anywhere, but here are some pictures.

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.

This is my Twitter-short coffee poem, one that I recycle every time the terms coffee & poems come up:

          You bring me coffee
          I bake you cake
          I eat your coffee
          You drink my cake
          Then we practice
          the art of conversation

          (Zol H, 2013)

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

Be inspired:


3 Responses

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  1. mukul chand said, on 2016/03/18 at 5:59 pm

    lovely poem.good idea

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