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Page last updated at 08:26 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008
Beautiful vowels

Front cover of Eunoia (published by Canongate)
It took seven years to write Eunoia

Eunoia is the shortest word in English containing all five vowels - and it means "beautiful thinking". It is also the title of Canadian poet Christian Bok's book of fiction in which each chapter uses only one vowel.

Mr Bok believes his book proves that each vowel has its own personality, and demonstrates the flexibility of the English language. Below are extracts from each chapter.


Hassan Abd al-Hassad, an Agha Khan, basks at an ashram - a Taj Mahal that has grand parks and grass lawns, all as vast as parklands at Alhambra and Valhalla. Hassan can, at a handclap, call a vassal at hand and ask that all staff plan a bacchanal - a gala ball that has what pagan charm small galas lack. Hassan claps, and (tah-dah) an Arab lass at a swank spa can draw a man's bath and wash a man's back, as Arab lads fawn and hang, athwart an altar, amaranth garlands as fragrant as attar - a balm that calms all angst. A dwarf can flap a palm branch that fans a fat maharajah. A naphtha lamp can cast a calm warmth.


Westerners revere the Greek legends. Versemen retell the represented events, the resplendent scenes, where, hellbent, the Greek freemen seek revenge whenever Helen, the new-wed empress, weeps. Restless, she deserts her fleece bed where, detested, her wedded regent sleeps. When she remembers Greece, her seceded demesne, she feels wretched, left here, bereft, her needs never met. She needs rest; nevertheless, her demented fevers render her sleepless (her sleeplessness enfeebles her). She needs help; nevertheless her stressed nerves render her cheerless (her cheerlessness enfetters her).


Hiking in British districts, I picnic in virgin firths, grinning in mirth with misfit whims, smiling if I find birch twigs, smirking if I find mint sprigs.

Midspring brings with it singing birds, six kinds, (finch, siskin, ibis, tit, pipit, swift), whistling shrill chirps, trilling chirr chirr in high pitch. Kingbirds flit in gliding flight, skimming limpid springs, dipping wingtips in rills which brim with living things: krill, shrimp, brill - fish with gilt fins, which swim in flitting zigs. Might Virgil find bliss implicit in this primitivism? Might I mimic him in print if I find his writings inspiring?


Loops on bold fonts now form lots of words for books. Books form cocoons of comfort - tombs to hold bookworms. Profs from Oxford show frosh who do post-docs how to gloss works of Wordsworth. Dons who work for proctors or provosts do not fob off school to work on crosswords, nor do dons go off to dorm rooms to loll on cots. Dons go crosstown to look for bookshops known to stock lots of top-notch goods: cookbooks, workbooks - room on room of how-to-books for jocks (how to jog, how to box), books on pro sports: golf or polo. Old colophons on schoolbooks from schoolrooms sport two sorts of logo: oblong whorls, rococo scrolls - both on worn morocco.


Gulls churr: ululu, ululu. Ducks cluck. Bulls plus bucks run thru buckbrush; thus dun burrs clutch fur tufts. Ursus cubs plus Lupus pups hunt skunks. Curs skulk (such mutts lurk: ruff, ruff). Gnus munch kudzu. Lush shrubs bud; thus church nuns pluck uncut mums. Bugs hum: buzz, buzz. Dull susurrus gusts murmur hushful, humdrum murmurs: hush, hush. Dusk suns blush. Surf lulls us. Such scuds hurl up cumulus suds (Sturm und Druck) - furls unfurl: rush, rush; curls uncurl: gush, gush. Such tumult upturns unsunk hulls; thus gulfs crush us, gulp, dunk us - burst lungs succumb.

Can you write using only one vowel? Email us your attempts using the form at the bottom of the page.

I think this is gimmicky!
Katherine, Arizona, USA

A Lancs man asks "Can that mad, bad, Yank MacCain catch Barack?" Lancs Man says Yanks want Barack? Fab!
Mike W, Lancashire

Prhps hs nxt ffrt wll b nthng bt cnsnnts!!
Gordon Knight, Boldre, New Forest

Expends excess weeks, never sleeps, yet renders wretched verse. Geek!
Ian , Glasgow, Scotland

Wild high wind - vivid spirit,
Zips, licks.
I wish, wish it still
I sigh, will it lift,shift?
Wild high wind
lilts, tilts, kills.
Eileen Tiffin de Quadra, Newcastle upon Tyne

A far away star gasps gas.
Star falls
Alas warmth past
Man gasps
Man falls
"Mam Dad Why??"
Phil Harris, London England

Every sheep relent ! Seven enter where'er three entrench. Ten express envy. Better repent eh ? Very deep....
James Upton, London

Why eke verse when these verses deserve temper? He needs help even when he's clever. He renders me bereft, needy. He spends me pretty well. Bye bye energy. Better flee, perplexed!
Sebastian Hickey, Dublin, Ireland

Dull. Dull, ugly, uck:
Tumult upturns, hurls, bursts,
Curbs plush hush,
Dull murmur gusts -
Humdrum duck clucks thus.
Laura Redfern, Conwy, Wales

Owls howl from lofty woods. No moon shows. Crows look coldly. No worms, no food, only gloom.
Ed, UK

...his gift is instilling illicit instincts in I!!
Jayne, Prestatyn, Wales

Efrem revered the verse
He cleverly kept jests
Petty pretences he etched
Rhyme heckles the style
Bereft; regrets refresh excite
Eden thy sleep swells decry
GH, Carrickfergus

I think this is slightly silly!
Michael Phillips, Southsea, England

Brand - What a scandal! A daft prat! Sad, mad Brand. Sack!
Ross - No good! Fool. Clot. Stop Ross's work. Show Ross door. Bog off, Ross!
Susan Harvey, London

To 'show off'; wordworm snoot who jots down words of Wordsworth or Byron by lots of solo o's on show.
Martin Boronte, London, UK

Yes! Here we see English text expressed ever freer. Letters re-dressed, remember French seer?
Marko B, Leeds, Yorkshire.

Yes, very clever: yet empty. He expended energy yet he vexes deeply. Berk!
John Dudley, London

Pop, pop, chop, chop, strop. Go on to work off lots of knots. Do not stop. Do not!
Marie, Eastbourne, East Sussex

Happy happy day...that day, my man had a way, had a play, had a stay....ah, that day!
Laura, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Fiddly, I find. Still, I didn't shirk. I didn't quit. This fits - it's right. I think it did it.
Jon Wallis, Bristol, UK

An arrant grab-bag; a bland, flat mass. Appals as far as charms. Alas, Art! That many days a man can scratch hard, and halt at that tat. That man wants a slap.
CRC, "Cantab"

John won't borrow Bok's book - too bloody wordy! Only O's? Noooooo!
John W, Sheffield

No con do !!
Roy McCallum, Whitley Bay

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