The Darkened Temple

Winner of the 2007 Book Prize in Poetry

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.


You can read an excerpt from The Darkened Temple on the University of Nebraska Press website here.


“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,

“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

Mari L'Esperance

About the Author

Mari L’Esperance is a graduate of New York University’s creative writing program, where she was a New York Times Company Foundation Creative Writing Fellow. L’Esperance’s poems have appeared in Pequod, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Barnabe Mountain Review, Salamander, and several other periodicals and an anthology. A chapbook manuscript, Begin Here, was awarded first prize in the 1999 Sarasota Poetry Theatre Press national chapbook competition and was published in 2000. In 2002 L’Esperance received a Pushcart Prize nomination for her poem “Pantoum of the Blind Cambodian Women”, which was published in The Worcester Review. L’Esperance has been awarded residency grants from Dorland Mountain Arts Colony and Hedgebrook. She has taught creative writing at NYU, Merritt College in Oakland, California, and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She is currently training to be a psychotherapist and lives in Oakland. L’Esperance, who is of Japanese and French Canadian-American descent, was born in Kobe, Japan and raised in southern California, Micronesia, and Japan.