Image Catalog/Flickr

For World Poetry Day on March 21, cafés worldwide will offer free espresso in exchange for creativity.

Coffee and poetry just go together: imagine someone sipping espresso in a European café while scrawling an inspired phrase on a stray napkin.

Now imagine them taking that napkin up to the counter and paying for their drink with that momentary stroke of brilliance.

Today, March 21, you might see people doing just that at 1,2800 cafes throughout the world. In honor of World Poetry Day—established by UNESCO in 1999—the Austrian company Julius Meinl will offer free caffeine to customers in exchange for a poem, The Guardian reports. Last year, over 100,000 people in 23 countries responded by putting on their writing caps; this year, cafés in 34 countries will participate. Most are located in Central and Eastern Europe, but others are scattered throughout the U.K., Australia, and the United States (find your nearest location here).

There’s something appealing about trading in the written word for a substance that fuels its creation. Though World Poetry Day falls but once a year, Molasses Books in Brooklyn operates a literary barter system year-round: patrons can bring in used books to exchange for coffee, beer, or wine.

The spontaneous acts of creativity elicited on Monday might range from just a few lines to letter-length sheaves. The poet and conceptual artist Robert Montgomery will collect them all and later install them as an exhibition in a secret London location, The Guardian reported.

In the promotional video for the offer, Montgomery says: “Poetry can challenge inherited value systems.” He probably means this as an abstraction along the lines of UNESCO’s definition of poetry: something that “contributes to the expansion of our common humanity, helping to increase its strength, solidarity, and self-awareness.” But on Monday, it might just make you question the true worth of your $4 latte, too.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  2. Transportation

    With Trains Like Schwebebahn, No Wonder Germans Love Public Transit

    Infrastructure like this makes it clear why Germany continues to produce enthusiasm for public transit, generation after generation.

  3. Amazon HQ2

    New York’s Ejection of Amazon Is the Start of a Movement

    NYC lawmakers who led a resistance campaign against HQ2 are declaring victory. And already, they have plans to escalate their opposition to tax incentives.

  4. Amazon HQ2

    Without Amazon HQ2, What Happens to Housing in Queens?

    The arrival of the tech company’s new headquarters was set to shake up the borough’s real estate market, driving up rents and spurring displacement. Now what?

  5. A man sleeps in his car.
    Equity

    Finding Home in a Parking Lot

    The number of unsheltered homeless living in their cars is growing. Safe Parking programs from San Diego to King County are here to help them.