Poems for pure coffee

July 2003 -

During the 34th festival of Poetry International at the end of June, Hivos began its coffee poem offensive. The development organisation hopes that the campaign, being mounted in collaboration with the Coffee Coalition, will force Douwe Egberts in the Netherlands to improve the circumstances of the labourers on its plantations.

‘Poetry is a powerful force in opposing the devastating violence of the material world’, said Hivos, quoting the Mongolian poet Galsan Tschinag. Five poets - Malva Flores from Mexico, Jalal El-Hakmaoui from Morocco, Slavko Mihalic from Croatia, Matthew Sweeney from Ireland and Rob Schouten from the Netherlands - read their coffee poems during the afternoon Poetry program ‘Pure Coffee’ on 19 June. The poems were written especially for this occasion. They were not political poems. All five poems were odes to the inspirational power of coffee.

These poems can serve as a source of inspiration for the participants in the competition that is part of the campaign. Through 15 November 2003 people can submit poems which contain the word coffee at least once. The twelve prizes range from a trip to Kenya to packages of coffee.