Writing Exercise – The Kyrielle

by | July 6, 2015 | Writing Exercise | 11 comments

By Ashley Lister

It’s almost three years since I first mentioned the kyrielle and it’s
become one of my favourite poetic forms. Below is what I originally said about
the poem.

You suggested we try new positions

You could tell that thought got me

You ordered some manuals from Amazon

I wonder just what we’ll do next?

The kyrielle is a French form of poetry written in quatrains. Each
quatrain concludes with a repeated line or phrase that works as a refrain for the

The first book we opened had pictures

It’s title was The Joy of Sex

We followed the instructions on Monday

I wonder just what we’ll do next?

The kyrielle has a meter usually composed of eight syllables per line
but it can be varied. There is no limit to the number of stanzas but three is really
the minimum.

On Tuesday we read marriage manuals

On Wednesday it got more complex

On Thursday and Friday you filmed us

I wonder just what we’ll do next?

The normal structure of the kyrielle is a/a/b/B, c/c/b/B, d/d/b/B. with
B being the repeated line. A varied structure could be a/b/a/B, c/b/c/B,
d/b/d/B. etc. or even a second line that didn’t rhyme.

Now we’ve gone through the whole the Kama

We’ve explored every page of that text

But now we must look to the future

I wonder just what we’ll do next?

As always, if you fancy writing a Kyrielle and sharing it in
the comments box below, we all look forward here to reading your work.


Ashley Lister

Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms. His most recent work, a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his second title published under his own name: Swingers: Female Confidential by Ashley Lister (Virgin Books; ISBN: 0753513439) Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica. Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto. He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.


  1. Lisabet Sarai

    Sounds like a challenge, Ash! I'll put on my thinking cap.

    • Ashley Lister

      Can't wait!

  2. Rachel Green

    Patio Garden

    I saw you on Harmony Monday;
    in private swiped right with a leer
    you mentioned your ex is a copper
    I'm sure I've gone off the idea.

    We met on a Tuesday in Walsall
    your confidence boosted with beer
    you lunged for a kiss in McDonalds
    I'm sure I've gone off the idea.

    On Wednesday you instantly messaged
    “It turns out I live really near
    do you fancy a coffer or something?”
    I'm sure I've gone off the idea.

    On Thursday you rapped on my knocker
    sans make-up you'd aged twenty year
    with the charm of a Bilston back alley
    I'm sure I've gone off the idea.

    On Friday you rented a Sherpa;
    convinced my to let you live here.
    “Two can live cheaply with half off the rent”
    I'm sure I've gone off the idea.

    Saturday breakfast was sausage.
    You sold off my stuff for your gear.
    You dressed me in fishnets and leather
    I'm sure I've gone off the idea..

    On Sunday I just couldn't take it
    confessed to the world I was queer.
    You begged a chance to just make it work.
    I'm sure I've gone off the idea.

    • Ashley Lister

      This is delightful and darkly amusing.

      If I was going to criticise anything it would be line 2 of stanza 5 – where you've got MY instead of ME. Other than that I think it's amusing, it's got rhythm, and the refrain works like a comedy punchline.

    • Rachel Green

      Thanks, Ash – good spot, too 🙂

  3. Lisabet Sarai

    By Lisabet Sarai
    8 July 2015

    A playful slap across my bum,
    Two fingers dabbling in my core,
    An expert licking till I come:
    I think I'd like to have some more.

    A pounding by relentless cock
    That leaves me satisfied and sore.
    We fuck till I can hardly walk.
    I think I'd like to have some more.

    Your leather cuff upon my wrist,
    You bind me hogtied on the floor.
    By leather too my flesh is kissed.
    I think I'd like to have some more.

    Initials carved into my butt,
    You piss on me, you call me whore,
    You claim me as your precious slut.
    I think I'd like to have some more.

    Where will your twisted mind next lead?
    What does our future hold in store?
    Imagination kindles need.
    I think I'd like to have some more.

    • Lisabet Sarai

      Writing this was a really interesting experience. I struggled for a long time to find a refrain. Everything that came to mind had the wrong meter.

      When I hit on this refrain, though, the poem practically wrote itself. It took fifteen minutes, tops. And afterward, new rhymes were still ringing in my mind. It's as though I had to find the rhythm and that set my mind free.

    • Ashley Lister

      I genuinely adore this one. It's got the rhythm and the content in perfect balance. The refrain just makes you want to go onto the next verse to find out what happens next (which balances strongly with something I've been pondering in a paper on the commonality of plot themes within erotic fiction).

      Your comments about the refrain are very apposite and I have to agree. I can't work on a kyrielle properly until I have that final line in place. Then, the rest of it seems to fall into place naturally. (I've used one of these to write a poem for my graduating students tomorrow).

      Great piece of poetry.

    • Rachel Green

      This is an absolute delight. It trips along merrily.

  4. Lisabet Sarai

    Glad you like it, Ash & Rachel!

  5. Lisabet Sarai

    Rachel, for some reason Blogger is ignoring my attempts to comment directly on your poem. I like it a lot, but I'm hindered by not recognizing some of the references: Walsal, Bilston, Sherpa, etc.

    "You dressed me in fishnets and leather" is my favorite line…!

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