Mari L'Esperance was born in Kobe, Japan to a Japanese mother and a French Canadian-New Englander father. Her collection The Darkened Temple (2008, University of Nebraska Press) was awarded a Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Peggy Shumaker has written, “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.”
An earlier collection, Begin Here, was awarded a Sarasota Poetry Theatre Press Chapbook Prize. In 2013 Prairie Lights Books published Coming Close: Forty Essays on Philip Levine, which L'Esperance coedited with Tomás Q. Morín. L'Esperance is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at New York University and the recipient of awards from the New York Times, New York University, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Hedgebrook, and Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.