Mari L’Esperance

The Darkened Temple
The Darkened Temple by Mari L’Esperance was selected by Hilda Raz for the 2007 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and published in September 2008 by the University of Nebraska Press.

“In The Darkened Temple, Mari L’Esperance enacts the process of defining a self out of fragments of cultural and personal history, the traumatic disintegration of that self, and its subsequent painful rebuilding: by turns narrative, chantlike, fractured, and lyric, these tender, terrifying, and frank poems fight their way into song.” —Jane Mead

“These stunning lyrics shine light on suffering. Across generations and across cultures, we follow intricate rituals of desire, of myth making, of mourning. Via corrosive wondering about a disappeared mother, we arrive ‘alone / at the gate of the unbearable.’ And yet these poems, vibrant and necessary, return us to ‘retrievable life,’ to essential human mysteries.” —Peggy Shumaker

The Darkened Temple is not a typical first book; it is not the work of a young writer on the edge of becoming, not the expected first-book miscellany that often begins a poetry career; nor is it hampered by the author’s limitations in style and experience. Mari L’Esperance comes to us in her mature form.” —Wendy Taylor Carlisle

Purchase at University of Nebraska Press or Amazon.


We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
—Jack Gilbert


Graphic by Lynh Tran