Any Drop to Drink

Wine is wont to show the mind of man, or so the saying goes. But in Alaska, it’s the beer bottles and sewer bills that do the talking.

The Alaska State Council on the Arts, in a bid to market poetry beyond the suspenders-and-pince-nez crowd, is inserting little odes and sonnets from area scribes in telephone, water and sewer bills and printing them on beer bottles—hoping to brighten people’s day when they least expect it (or at least when they’re a little tipsy).

“The literary arts are difficult to promote. But poetry is not just for highly educated people,” says Shannon Planchon, the council’s associate director. The waste-water companies were a little taken aback by the idea, but went with it, Planchon says. “They were like, ‘O…kay?!’ They weren’t expecting something like this.”

S.J. Klein, chief of the Borealis Brewery, started printing poems on bottles last year (one was titled “Don’t Pee So Close to Me”) and admits, “We don’t really want [some entries] to be on beer we’re selling.” But he loves the neo-medieval spirit of the project. “It’s sort of like a hymnal,” he says of each poem-enhanced bottle, “except you can drink out of it.”