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Spilling The Beans: Why #PayWithAPoem Day Is For Everyone

Pay With A Poem Day is a fresh, new approach on literature to give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements.

21/03/2017 03:57 SAST
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Robert Montgomery attends New River Poetry

Take me to Croatia on the 21st of March! I only need 12 hours. I need this time to feed my soul and my body; poetry for the soul, coffee for the body. And if not Croatia, then fly me to Turkey, UK or Romania!

On this day only one can pay with a poem for one's cup of coffee.

Would you do it?

Did you know that one in five people believe poetry is for professional writers only?

Poetry excites the mind and enlightens the soul. You could say: "Whoa, Babe, poetry ahead!" or "Yay! Poetry!" Either way your eye acknowledged it and your mind engaged with it and your heart, most probably, slowed down its pace. "I know this", it pulsed. "It is my language." Because poetry is the universal language of our hearts.

Pay With A PoemDay is a fresh, new approach on literature. In 1999 UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared March 21 World Poetry Day, celebrating writing, publishing, reading and teaching of poetry worldwide, as UNESCO says, to give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements.

Pay With A PoemDay has been initiated in 2013 by the Viennese manufacturer and coffee retailer Julius Meinl and all participating coffee sites are supported by a global campaign. If not lucky enough to be in a participating country on the 21st of March, you can follow it on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtags #PayWithAPoem and #PoetryForChange.

In 2016 over 250 cafes around Croatia gave FREE coffee in exchange for a... poem, 34 countries from around the world, 1 300 coffee houses where over 100 000 poems have been written! This year four continents will be joining in this brewing frenzy - with Netherlands and Singapore taking part for the first time.

From a bartering point of view, does this mean that a poem is worth a cup of coffee? If so, then I would definitely like to know how many cups of coffee is Karen Blixen's Our Of Africa worth. How about Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None? Christie was a teetotaler. How many tea cups had she consumed until its completion? 500? 1,000?

How about Farewell To Arms?

Pay With A PoemDay does put book prices in a different perspective. And considering just the coffee price today, picking up a book at your local bookstore suddenly seems like a bargain.

Feeling uneasy about that poem? Two genres of short poetry come to mind for this fantastic occasion.

  • Write a Haiku.

Traditionally Japanese a Haiku is a 17 syllables verse formed of three lines with 5-7-5 syllables. Usually a Haiku is inspired by nature. Keep it short and count your syllables.

  • Write poetry of your own heart.

Just put pen on paper smile and listen to your heartbeat.

What Coffee is to Poetry by Patricia Furstenberg

Coffee is brewed for all of my sense,

Hot, steamy like a heart

Pulsating into my cup.

Nurturing me,

Giving me life

Day in and day out.

Poetry grows like a tree of life,

Words covering the nakedness of its trunk.

Cover my heart,

Fuel my emotions.

Coffee and poetry

For eternity.

Pay With A PoemDay around the world

London

A visual image for #PayWithAPoem day is The PoeTree. A red tree trunk with leafs of poems written all over the world on this singular day and planted right in the heart of London, on the pavement on Finsbury Avenue Square.

"We need poetry as much as we need nature. We need it to repopulate the places devoid of emotion with our dreams and our imagination. Poems can change our days for the better. They did it on March 21st. They are doing it now, once again." (Robert Montgomery, Pay With A Poem global ambassador and artist.)

Milan

A bridge over Navigli River is draped in poems and thoughts written by coffee lovers. Imagine strolling under the Italian sun, taking in the sights and sounds of history, your heartbeat slowing down. The fresh aroma of coffee rises teasingly when a gush of wind makes the bridge hum, a low hum of paper being tossed and turned like the pages of an open book, spread out, invitingly waiting for you. Go ahead, read it, it's ok, it is La Dolce Vita.

Because POETRY is for EVERYONE.

It is as much mine and yours as it is Shelley's or Frost's. POETRY is not a past tense, poetry is NOW, contemporary and ALIVE.

"I love how Pay With A Poem provides a little pocket of freedom, where money is replaced by poetry. Instead of using a banknote or a credit card people can transfer value to poetry, and use it as an alternative form of payment." (Robert Montgomery)

There's more to look forward to as Julius Meinl also initiated the Meet With A Poem campaign on the 1st of October:

"An experiment to rewrite the way we show our feelings"

Just go ahead, put your heart on paper and write that poem. I know I will.