Twenty Consonant Poetry
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 (http://www.au.com/ammx/20cp.html).
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.
I Spew: a bum King juror acquitted a vile L.A. fuzz hoax.
NEWSPOEM 7 FEBRUARY 1996
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.
[note: the capitalized names are not part of the Twenty Consonant Poem]
JOE: Jabberwocky zapped venom goo to fix his quill.
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...
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
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
Get it off of
Daddy did ache
Happy I'm me
Plugged a dime fee
Cog agog goo
Gack do awe of
Break a pup off
From mom I know
What is opaque?
Zeno gave Jacques
Pop up a puff
We do advise
Juke box you weigh