The Darkened Temple


The Darkened Temple

Mari L'Esperance

The Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry Series

100 pages


September 2008


$16.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

“Longing itself is nothing but the heart’s open spaces,” writes Mari L’Esperance. And in the open spaces at the heart of these poems is a mother who has disappeared. In a world of war and displacement, illness of the mind and body, imprisonment and violence both historical and personal, the poet leads her readers through a landscape of loss. In unadorned language, she draws readers into the interplay between articulation and silence—and finally offers a vision of redemption.

Author Bio

Mari L’Esperance is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at New York University, where she was a New York Times Company Foundation Creative Writing Fellow. Her earlier poetry collection Begin Here was awarded a Sarasota Poetry Theatre Press Chapbook Prize. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in several print and online journals and anthologies, including Beloit Poetry Journal, Many Mountains Moving, Poetry Kanto, Prairie Schooner, and Salamander. L’Esperance’s honors include two Pushcart Prize nominations and residency fellowships from Hedgebrook and Dorland Mountain Arts Colony. She lives and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area.


“Mari L’Esperance accepts all of the responsibilities inherent in the use of language by a serious poet: these poems are faithful to history, to memory, and to conscience, acknowledging the pain implicit in any thoughtful life, even as they celebrate its joys and sensual beauties.”—Edward Smallfield, poet and coeditor of Apogee 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, author of The Usable Field

"In its conception, in its craftsmanship, in its moral bearings, in its production design, in its ambition, and, not least, in its humanity, it is a book that will resonate as only the authentic can."—

"I urge anyone who cares about carefully constructed lyric poems to get herself a copy of this necessary book. I have read it three times and my inclination is to begin all over again."—Susan Rich, Alchemist's Kitchen blog

"Richly textured and admirably diverse in its structures, Mari L'Esperance's collection of poems, The Darkened Temple, stuns as it edifies a craving for depth in modern poetry."—Glenda Bailey-Mershon, Women and Books blog

"L'Esperance's lyricism is stunning. Her sense of line and image, perfection. The lover of poetry and the poet alike will appreciate the skill and talent evident in The Darkened Temple."Christine Stewart,

Table of Contents


fog : memory


The Bush Warbler Laments to the Woodcutter

After Reading of the Expatriate Writer's Death by Shipwreck: Margaret Fuller, 1850

In the Valley of the Kings


Something Coming Apart


Returning to Earth

The Doll Maker

Pantoum of the Blind Cambodian Women

Another History





The Last Time I Saw Her

The Search

Trying to Carry It

The Shoes


Where the Body Might Be, the Mind Follows--

Dark House

Beyond It

Finding My Mother


To Her Body

The Book of Ash

Grief Is Deep Green

For My Mother's Birthday

White Hydrangeas as a Way Back to the Self


Begin Here

What's Possible

After Fire

Two Maples

This Hour Passing

To My Father, Living for a Long Time in Another Country

The Choices Not Made

Last Hour With His Dead Wife


Map of the World

Happiness and Happenstance Share the Same Root


The Night Garden

How It Happens


As Told by Three Rivers



2007 Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry

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