A poem for a coffee on World Poetry Day in Wolfville

Wendy Elliott
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WOLFVILLE - Poet John Guiney Yallop made the  rounds of Wolfville coffee spots Monday.

He began at Tim Hortons, but corporate permission hadn't arrived for the event. A poem had been already written to pay for one cup of coffee on World Poetry Day  March 21, and Guiney Yallop received his first caffeine brew at TAN Coffee on Main Street. 

Server Mike Butler said the Acadia University professor had dropped off a letter last week outlining the special date and the possibility of some filming.

Just after lunchtime, the poet appeared with cameraman and colleague, Matt Rogers, and a student with sound equipment.

 “John was very nice and very informative about what he was doing there and I was more than happy to give him a cup of coffee in exchange for a poem," Butler said. "I mean, who wouldn't?”

According to Butler, the  café wasn't too busy and those who were there got to watch the poet being interviewed.

"When it was done, John came up to the counter and addressed the cafe saying it was World Poetry Day and that he was thankful for TAN Coffee for giving him a peaceful space to write and good coffee to drink.”

Guiney Yallop encouraged others to write poetry and then, Butler said, he was "presented with some verse – one for the café and another specifically written for me. I was really quite honored.”

Since the Slow Dough Café was closed, the poet moved on to the Just Us Café, where he presented staff with a poem about the Grapevine paper. And then Guiney Yallop began composing.

He prepared haiku for this reporter and Mayor Jeff Cantwell, in case he took up the invitation to stop in.  Guiney Yallop wrote a Lament for the Rainbow Crosswalk last fall.

Guiney Yallop passed over the poem he prepared at Just Us and then departed for Paddy’s. There, mugs of java were poured for poet and film crew. The final stop of the day was El Dolce Far Niente.

World Poetry Day has yet to really catch on in Canada, Guiney Yallop said, adding he believed he was one of fewer than a handful of Canadian poets to participate. CBC Regina reported one café there called for poets to take part.

Guiney Yallop added he was most grateful for his companions’ enthusiastic willingness to film the downtown journey to his favourite coffee stops.

“I’m so proud of Wolfville, and how the people here responded to this global movement Pay with a Poem on World Poetry Day.”

Did you know?

World Poetry Day was first proclaimed by UNESCO at its 30th session held in Paris in 1999. Around the world, cafés were accepting an original poem as payment for a coffee March 21. 

Last year, according to Austrian coffee company Julius Meinl, more than 100,000 people wrote poems for coffee in Europe. World Poetry Day is believed to have been marked in 34 countries this year.

Watch a video about the event here.


Organizations: Acadia University, CBC Regina, UNESCO Julius Meinl

Geographic location: Wolfville, Canada, Paris Europe

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