Jeffery Donaldson, PhD

donaldson Associate Professor of English and Cultural Studies
Location: Chester New Hall, Room 308
Phone: 905 525 9140 ext. 24132
Web Site:


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Jeffery Donaldson is a poet and author of Once Out of Nature (McClelland & Stewart, 1991), Waterglass (McGill-Queen's University Press, 1999), and Palilalia (McGill-Queen's, 2008). He teaches a graduate course in metaphor theory and another in modern and contemporary American poetry. Author of
articles on a variety of contemporary American and Canadian poets, including James Merrill, Richard Howard, Robert Lowell, Mark Strand, Elizabeth Bishop, and Anne Compton, he has also co-edited (with Alan Mendelson) a collection of essays entitled Frye and the Word: Religious Contexts in the Writings of
Northrop Frye (U of T, 2004). An advocate of Inquiry and problem-based learning in the Humanities, his current research involves metaphor, evolution, and cognitive theory.


Jeffery Donaldson

"Don't you know that mine too was the ventriloquist's thrown voice, and that what I spoke was a stirred echo?"
Palilalia is disordered speech. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this lesser known vocal tic is “an involuntary repetition of words, phrases or sentences.” Sister to echolalia (repeating what others say), and distant cousin to the more forbidding coprolalia (the involuntary use of obscene language), palilalia can feel, on the one hand, like an affliction to be suppressed, and on the other, like a kind of meditative mantra that focuses and intensifies your thought.

"Your repetitious tics," the ghost of the poet's mentor, Northrop Frye, tells him, are “ the ecstatic rhapsodist’s / St. Vitus Dance, slangster’s whizzle / and conjuration, philologist’s hullabaloo.” It isn’t a question of how to stop them, but of finding how far they will take you.

Jeffery Donaldson offers poems about Tourette's Syndrome, about his loves and blessings, about the erotic life as flavoured by all these, and about the grace of a stillness in the midst of so much mental noise. Paul Valéry said that a poem is never finished, only abandoned. All poets have palilalia, or should have....

Author of two previous collections, Waterglass and Once Out of Nature, Jeffery Donaldson teaches poetry, poetic theory, and problem-based learning at McMaster University.

McGill-Queen's Univeristy Press

Release date: 2008-02-25