Twenty Consonant Poetry
William Gillespie

Twenty Consonant Poetry was developed by skilled poetic researchers working in Urbana Illinois in 1993. The idea grew out of a joke about twelve-tone Music. It was originally used as a learning aid to invoke visions in high school poetry students. Since then people of widely varying sensibilities have attempted it. It has been used to write poems, stories, scripts, stock reports, haiku, limericks, collage and cartoons. Unbeknownst to us (for awhile), Twenty Consonant Poetry even has its own web page (

Here's how it works: a Twenty Consonant Poem uses each of the twenty consonants exactly once before repeating any of them. Y is usually treated as a vowel, although 21 Consonant Poetry exists. Vowels may be (but do not have to be) used freely. These rules may then be modified by individual poets. A convention which is used in most of the following examples is to repeat a consonant as many times as desired so long as no other consonant intervenes. This will allow "allow" in which the L is repeated. It will also allow "A dead Dada dad did a Dada deed, dude."

Here are four shorter and four longer examples:


I quit my job: a crazy wage slave, dead hunk of pox.

Reflections Upon the Viewing of Bill Clinton's Inaugural Address, 1993, from the kitchen of Minneci's Restaurant in Champaign, Illinois, minutes after opening time.

I ask Bill for a waxy TV quip. He gazed in my juice.
He blows me off quite vexed. "No Joke?" Cagy prez.
"Go find a book. Jot a view, acquire hazy examples."
"Why expound off my jazzy victory soliloquy book?" (gag)


I Spew: a bum King juror acquitted a vile L.A. fuzz hoax.
XXXKKK. Darrel quit his fuzz job. Give me a new cop.


AP -- SARAJEVO A quiet face exuded a weak laugh. Home? Zone. Bosnia-(Family? Boxed. Joke opaque. Eye wet. Touch? Ha.)-Herzegovina. Djukic? Acquit. Fizzle? Pax. We give Serbia a home.

a Twenty Consonant script for Joe, Bethany, and Narrator

[note: the capitalized names are not part of the Twenty Consonant Poem]

JOE: Jabberwocky zapped venom goo to fix his quill.
Loquacious banjo, fat gamma ray hoax, weak video Pez.
Fact Jalopy waved a hazy baroque oxygen mask.

NARRATOR: ...Voluptuous Joe waxed Zany: marquee haiku, coffee gab...

BETHANY: Joe, you cook!

NARRATOR: ...a quip lax Bethany vowed...

BETHANY: I graze so famished on Veal Pez. Go brew coffee!

JOE: Tax me!

NARRATOR: ...Joe quakes...

JOE: Zowie!

N ...he fixed the oven...

JOE: Simmer quail juice.

NARRATOR: ...a potatoe book Joe views explains...

JOE: Geez! Cut me a fee!


JOE: I require beezwax. Fetch me a jar, love!

BETHANY: No go. See? Quid Pro Quo. Fix jasmine vegetable pie, wiz!

JOE: Okay, okay.

NARRATOR: ...he ceded...

JOE: The oxe cake has good piquant flavor.

BETHANY: My jaw! Ow!

NARRATOR:..Kiss Ming; a queer buzz vexed Joe - he wept cafe ale...

Twenty Consonant Radio
Monday February 22nd WEFT Champaign 90.1 FM

Biz quells jokes. Vox radio WEFT champaign.

No joke, no new age hoax. Cool 90.1 FM.

Buzz 3599338, request a vapid jazz poem CD.

Quell a fake sax guy interview.

Hey, bad DJ, hey! Spinning wax.

Quote a breezy vacuum. "I like folk."

Quip a judicious review, foxy biz man. Thug.

Our radio waves squeal FM moxie. Pizzazz!

Begin a hit, Jack.

KVXX. Magic chat.

Wired DJs quaff payola, benzedrine 'n' java.

A quick smug gab fix. A hip pop waltz.


[note: this poem is a translation of the first part of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land into Twenty Consonant Poetry. I used a rule which stipulated that I could repeat any consonant or sequence of consonants as long as no other consonants intervened. Slashes are to clarify divisions between Twenty Consonant phrases and are not part of the poem]


A Waste Land

Viva Roma! MCMXXXXII Jabber rough quip pike faze/Q.

By Ezra Pound

who excells as a sage, me a fave joke to/ quiz a boob

I. A Wake of Dead

July is a mean month, coax a
Poppy grove/ up off of jaded dead rock, mixing
a blue bile bulb eel & a quartz wash & shave,/ joining
safe pox ivy back with May aqua drizzle./
January razed hot, fixed opaque
smog by a wavy ice lake,/ squeezing
juice from our lax morph tube, awoke a dove./
A weak hoax, fall leapt out at us.
It sat as T.S. ate squid dijon up in Penzberg.
Brag a oboe raga. Barge, rage, urge, argue or give me mice!/
Peak aqua jugs showered brief fizz. Move. Exit a collonade./
We walked by opaque Xray sieve ozone zenith,
to a huge jam cafe/ gazebo,
we quaffed lemon java here,
she ear-shares her easy hours here, sixty apiece, cake.../
"Ja. Ich ex-Bereznikian aus Kiel"
gave a tweed mafia quip./
Age of five we amaze pals,
play a spiel as ex-arch-duke: a quaint not-job./
"Yo! Cuz! Prove my jaw-fib! Wax a quick tinsel sleigh!"/
Bon-bon 'n` Tequila quells a lisp spice speck cook.
I vow. "Vie! Who... uh... of...
I judge a Zoomer! Marie, Marie, Murmur more Marx."/
A wavy quail in aquiline jagged peaks.
A sexy bomb, me. A razor zoo of foci, he.
Itch to each touch. Teach it (Ouch!) to chit-chat./
Six PM? Read a book. Why icy aquafog? Jet to Venezuela.

Quixotic Jazz

[note: in this poem I attempted to only use the letters J, Q, X, and Z in words, phrases, or proper nouns which combined two of them. An additional rule allowed me to repeat a consonant after one other consonant had intervened if the repeated consonants were in the same word. Like "quartzite."]

Quixotic jazz
A pig egg farm has
As week ended baby believe

Equinox lies
So I jeapordize
A week off to baby my image acheive

Get it off of
A chewed dada dove
I'm maybe like Ex-Josquin Prez

Daddy did ache
By my mummy wake
"An extravaganza of pop!" Quill-joy says

Happy I'm me
My icy cage key
A jinx flowed above quartzite seas

Cable TV
A pop Waikiki
Agog, gaga: Jimi M. Hendrix of Squeeze!

Plugged a dime fee
A view off of me
Exquisite Azerbaijan hack

Cog agog goo
A milky odd view
We buzz: a Zinjanthropus sees Equifax

Gack do awe of
A jonquil I love
A phobos is smut texturize

Jacqueline K
A hat every day
A boa of puma wig z-axis eyes

Break a pup off
A wet icy cough
Oh, Ajax, Velasquez and me!

From mom I know
We weave avid dough
I juxtapose quizzical lullaby bee

Exchequer beau
By Jimenez glow
Saved a deep tot off a key

What is opaque?
A Quincunx of fake.
Jezebel lived odd a damage agree

Zeno gave Jacques
A pop Derridox
Bubba M. make it halfway

Pop up a puff
A fuzzbox too tough
A cleverer ninjaesque kook made away

We do advise
You go equalize
A jack-in the box from my pay

Juke box you weigh
Amid disarray
A quetzal alive up anon nice cafe'

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