This review is taken from Stand 236, 20(4) December 2022 - February 2023.

Lauren Pope, Always Erase (Edinburgh: Black Diode Press, 2022).

Always Erase is an impressive debut. Lauren Pope moves deftly across different poetic forms exploring multiple selves with considerable wit and dexterity. She can be comic and disturbing in equal measure. These are poems in which the pleasure of Pope’s poetic intelligence is often accompanied by challenging discomfort as she homes in on what it means to be a girl, a woman, and, more generally, a self in our contemporary world. The mode is often interrogative, questioning others – including the reader – as much as herself, as she reflects on how she is situated and formulated by both family and romance. She frequently presents herself in the role of sibling and her favourite interlocutors are her sisters who also serve as alter egos. In these impossible conversations she finds herself confidently at home in a poetic medium in which she can be playfully creative.

As she moves across different geographies – various places in the US and Europe as well as Tangier and Hawaii – Pope appears to be equally comfortable working with popular culture, social media, literary history, and religious experience as she pursues her quest of making her lyric poems serve as vehicles for provoking flashes of insight into the spectral nature of the self.

The collection’s opening poem, ‘Our Lady of the Macabre’, is indicative of its more general concern with things metaphysical – its frequent occupation with the religious, the sacred, and the sacramental, though ...
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