World Poetry Day is a celebration of literature and free speech Getty

World Poetry Day is a celebration of poetry, literature and free speech, observed by UNESCO every year. The day is aimed at encouraging creativity, inspiring the teaching of poetry and restoring a dialogue between poetry and other arts, such as theatre, dance and music.

PEN International also uses the day to highlight the imprisonment, murder and abuse of poets, writers and journalists around the world.

"By paying tribute to the men and women whose only instrument is free speech, who imagine and act, UNESCO recognises in poetry its value as a symbol of the human spirit's creativity," says Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO.

"By giving form and words to that which has none – such as the unfathomable beauty that surrounds us, the immense suffering and misery of the world – poetry contributes to the expansion of our common humanity, helping to increase its strength, solidarity and self-awareness."

When is it?

World Poetry Day is marked on 21 March. The date was chosen during UNESCO's 30th session, held in Paris in 1999.

You can pay for your coffee with a poem on World Poetry Day iStock

How can you pay for coffee with poetry?

Austrian coffee company Julius Meinl has announced more than 1,000 of its outlets around the world will offer coffee drinkers the chance to pay for their beverage with a poem. You can find a map of all the participating stores on the Meinl Coffee website. Last year, coffee drinkers from 1,153 coffee houses in 27 countries paid for their coffee with a poem.

On last year's scheme, CEO Marcel Löffler said: "We are proud that more than 100,000 people who live in different places of the world, have different interests and jobs and ideas, and talk different languages, still have something to share: their hearts. They embraced emotions, slowed down and replaced the normal currency with poems. On March 21st, coffee lovers gathered from around the globe."