FRIDAY 30 SEP 2016 1:18 PM


Numerous stories in popular culture focus on the meeting of two people, whether clandestine or otherwise. Many have happy endings, and some do not – but one which did capture the imagination of many readers, and continues to do so today, is Victorian poet Robert Browning’s dedication to his future wife, Elizabeth Barrett. Written in 1845, the ode, named Meeting At Night, highlights the romanticism and intrigue of an engagement between two people. It is these feelings on which the first annual Meet With A Poem day is based.

In collaboration with historic coffee roasters, Julius Meinl, the Meet With A Poem day global initiative on October 1 encourages people to change their social media profile photo to a picture of a poem. The idea is to revert communications back to its purest form, words –and see love rekindled, or even begun.

Meet With A Poem also coincides with World Coffee Day; this partnership with Julius Meinl provides a focal point for those who meet due to poetic impetus. Participating Julius Meinl coffee shops across ten countries are offering duos cups of coffee for free, to give them a chance to fully express their emotions.

Robert Montgomery, poet and campaign ambassador for Julius Meinl and the Meet With a Poem day campaign, met his partner, Greta Bellamacina, through poetry. He also hopes the initiative will remind people that raw communication often provides the cut-through needed to connect with one another.

Montgomery says, “We've become so dominated by types of speech that treat us as one-dimensional. Advertising just treats us as consumers, political speech just treats us as voters, corporate speech just treats us as workers and shareholders, and all of these now dominant types of speech are very limited and one-dimensional.”

He continues, “My hope is poetry can reach the whole person— we're not just our job title or our demographic, we all have a universe of imagination inside of us. I believe every person’s consciousness is its own dream universe.”

Yet, the campaign acknowledges that the 21st century is a digital age. Despite the historic connection between Julius Meinl coffee houses and literature, smartphone play an integral role in bringing people together through poetry. Montgomery says, “With this project we are doing something very modern— we are asking people to change their dating app pictures to a poem for a day and meet people because of the poem they post, instead of how they look in the picture on their profile – I feel like on internet dating sites people are lost in a jungle of cheekbones and retouched pouts.”

And, in a world of selfies and smartphones, quick-thinking dating apps and digital communications, Meet With A Poem aims to get people back in touch with their true feelings and highlight that actual words, written by actual people, harness the power of togetherness.

CEO of Julius Meinl, Marcel Löffler, says “As a brand with a heritage cemented in the Viennese coffee house culture – a creative and artistic environment – we have a natural intrigue into how relationships can be positively impacted through poetry. Our mission is to make the world a more poetic and better place, in small but meaningful steps. Ultimately this social experiment aims to bring people together and see if poetry and good coffee, can positively impact how we connect and express.”

For Montgomery, the connections words can forge between people have made this campaign worthwhile. He says, “The voice of think poetry takes you to a place of reflection, and I think through reflection we can make our relationships kinder and better.” It has brought the romanticism back to unknown meetings – and proves that almost 200 years since Meeting At Night was written, poetry can still bring people together.

The campaign is led by advertising agency McCANN Bucharest, with international PR strategy and content creation by DeVries SLAM. To find out how you can get involved, visit the Julius Meinl website or change your Twitter, Facebook or Instagram photo to a picture of a poem.

Use the hashtags #MeetWithAPoem and #PoetryForChange to join in the conversation.