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The Value Of Art: Grab A Coffee, Pay With A Poem – Slideshow

Robert Velkey 2016.03.22.

On the 18th of November 1999, UNESCO marked the first calendar day of the spring, 21st of March, as World Poetry Day. According to the celebration of reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry through the world, in Hungary poems transfigured to money in Cafes within the Pay with a Poem Campaign. Everybody got a free cappuccino, latte, or espresso, who could write a part of a poem or write a poem… We could not pay for a coffee with cultural benefits before, yet…

The sponsor of the program is a Vienna-based company with an interest in coffee culture. It is the second time Hungary was involved to the campaign of the Julius Meinl Company, with more than 60 coffee places this year. Péter Takács, executive director of Julius Meinl Hungary, explained: The most important thing is to get along for as many people as possible the message of that, there are things what are not ratable with money. Poetry is more than art. A Poem can show the way, give us power, or calm us down and bring peace. We call everybody to have a brake in this running life and share those favorite lines with each other.


On Monday, you could use your favorite lines as a currency in plenty of old and classic cafés of Budapest also such as the Gerbeaud, Szamos, Rózsavölgyi Szalon, Vígadó, etc. The Campaign reached the coffee houses of the countryside also.

The campaign had a wide public interest, on the Facebook page more than nine thousand people indicated their interest in the program.

Hopefully, on National Poetry Day of Hungary (what is the birthday of Attila József), there will be also impressive programs to inspire the public to read, write, think, on the 11th of April.

Celebrating the Day of Poetry with János Pilinszky:

On the Wall of a KZ Lager

Where you’ve fallen, you will stay.
In the whole universe this one
and only place is the sole place
which you have made your very own.

The country runs away from you.
House, mill, poplar – every thing
is struggling with you here, as if
in nothingness mutating.

But now it’s you who won’t give up.
Did we fleece you? You’ve grown rich.
Did we blind you? You watch us still.
You bear witness without speech.

English version by Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri 

Egy KZ láger falára

Ahova estél, ott maradsz.
A mindenségből ezt az egyet,
ezt az egyetlen egy helyet,
de ezt azután megszerezted.

Menekül előled a táj.
Lehet az ház, malom vagy nyárfa,
minden csak küszködik veled,
mintha a semmiben mutálna.

De most már te nem is tágitasz.
Megvakitottunk? Szemmel tartasz.
Kifosztottunk? Meggazdagodtál.
Némán, némán is reánkvallasz.

János Pilinszky

Or with a new way / new age of poetry… 🙂