The Temple by Michael Bazzett


by Michael Bazzett

Editors’ Selection from the 2020 Frost Place Chapbook Competition

ships October 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949344-16-5
Softcover, 34 pages, with gold foil stamped cover



In The Temple, Michael Bazzett has created a testament to inhabiting, for a while, a body in this world. It’s a book seeking glimpses of the great beyond, a heaven fashioned out of earth and questions, in the here and now.

“Of poets writing today, I can’t think of any whose metaphors are more satisfying than Michael Bazzett’s—and The Temple is his best work yet. These poems are strange-making and surprising, full of wry humor and unexpected turns, but so wise, so eerily just-right, I take them as truth.”

—Maggie Smith

“Michael Bazzett’s poems are winsome with a little bit of wicked. In The Temple, Bazzett’s poems narrate old stories—of belief, of ageing, of the body—through new openings. His gods have regrets, cigars, and departures. His angels have bawdy senses of humour and are as immediate as they are intimidating. These poems are cinematic—a mouse watches a burning city, people travel tunnels the wrong way, a man spies his older self on a street but doesn’t interrupt him. You can milk a stone in the world of these poems, and everybody is conversational, chatty, full of grief and longing. Lurking in the corners of The Temple is time, looking at all that’s changing: where once he could bound, a dog now ambles, writing poetry.”

—Pádraig Ó Tuama

The Temple invites readers to drop their bodies and sink into a realm of strangeness so breathtaking, so alive with mystery and mysticism, that the place begins to feel enchanted, even holy. Recognizing that we often crave more space for the imagination and more certainty about our worth as living things, Michael Bazzett pushes us to seek out an imperfect God, not as a source of answers, but as a mirror in whose reflected presence we can find acceptance, solace, and light.”

—Faisal Mohyuddin

Read a sample poem:

The End

In the beginning, God wanted
to be a comedian. What is made
in my image, but has no soul?
he’d ask, and just stare at you,
exchanging the idea of a punch
line for something like endless
exhalation. He would raise
one eyebrow and ash his cigar.
No laughter. Part of the issue
was the slight skew in the angels’
sense of humor. Sometimes
dozens would sit and watch
the obstinate waves batter a
glacier for weeks, only laughing
when it calved and a shattered
hunk of dirty ice lunged free
into the frigid Antarctic sea.
Then they’d bray like donkeys.
God took notes and tried using
a similar structure: the build
that starts to feel like boredom.
Good timing’s probably tough
when you’re eternal. Jokes,
like most folks, have no idea
what they mean until the end.

Michael Bazzett has published three books of poems: You Must Remember This (Winner of the Linquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, Milkweed, 2014), Our Lands Are Not So Different (Horsethief Books, 2017), and The Interrogation (Milkweed, 2017). His fourth full-length collection, The Echo Chamber, is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2021. His work has appeared in journals such as The Sun, The American Poetry Review, Image, Threepenny Review and Ploughshares, and his verse translation of the Mayan creation epic, The Popol Vuh, (Milkweed, 2018) was longlisted for ALTA’s National Translation Award, as well as being named one of 2018’s ten best books of poetry by The New York Times. He lives with his wife and children in Minneapolis.


Additional information

Weight .25 lbs
Dimensions 5 × 8 × .25 in


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