About the Author

Jeffery Donaldson

Jeffery Donaldson is the author of Palilalia, a finalist for the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry, Waterglass, and Once out of Nature. He has also the co-editor of Frye and the Word:  Religious Contexts in the Writings of Northrop Frye. Donaldson teaches poetry and American literature at McMaster University. He lives on the Niagara Escarpment near Grimsby, Ontario. 

Books by this Author
Echo Soundings

Echo Soundings

Essays on Poetry and Poetics
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Fluke Print


Both ends of this dull pencil have their say
and go together. For when I try

the tapered point, finding I am led
to write before I die its darker things, instead

catch my eye ascending to the nub
(the nodding jester's blunt "ah there's the rub!")

that daubs above the dismal lines below
a flourishing "I would not have it so."

Dyslexic, mute, it holds - that subtle curse -
a mirror up to nothing, in reverse.

My aching slant, my least that can be said,
is followed backwards by a nulling thread,

whose wavings-off, dismissive counter-sign,
become facetious, affable, benign,

a clear, upending scrub, as though the baser
word that everything must go

were giddily extinguished in the air.
What all I cannot say is written there.


Among our parsing, several moods
of selfhood, conjugated thus-
I am, you are, she is, word-chess
where grapple our twinned solitudes,

where all our spoked divergent lines
of empathy come to quarrel-
we seek a marriage of true Mines
in the first-person plural.

First person? Plural? We won't add up.
The pronoun buckles under weight.
Our one-for-two's an iffy trope,
dichotomous and incomplete

unless made whole by that pure is,
the metaphoric predicate,
whose blithe between-where synapses
can couple kinds, make this a that.

Sooner said than done. Lying alike
conjoined, subjects that in part agree,
we give it the old college try,
our both I's open, cheek to cheek,

and listen, knowing how, just when
you touch your inner, stranger half,
my me divides you from yourself,
but seeks you there, again, again.

How else to conjugate, or dance
our pas de deux of Her and His,
to merge and part, on the off chance
(however wrong) we is, we is.

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Missing Link

Missing Link

The Evolution of Metaphor and the Metaphor of Evolution
also available: Paperback Hardcover
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Slack Action

Jack in the Box

Always the same old tune, the rote
lessons of form versus content
you keep trying to get a lid on.

Inside, a lurking presence. Outside,
a music to rattle it out by the one
handle, the inner expression sprung

in truth from its own trappings.
Your buried clown gathered to itself,
head lowered, scheming, its revelation

a joke. Maybe it has got too easy
these last years. Just crank up
the old Tourettic jangler, and pop!

out with it! a top-heavy doddering
expression's gangling hysteria, joyful
as all get out. The very idea!

No wonder you—ve always
looked askance at what's inside.
But why play then” Did you think

your wound-up loping strains kept
the bounder at bay” Why,
it's the cranking that stirs him!

Or you just thought it would sound
better, and that you wouldn—t flinch
like this every time around.

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Frye and the Word

Frye and the Word

Religious Contexts in the Writings of Northrop Frye
also available: eBook
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The Essential John Reibetanz

Speech Therapy

His love speaks the language of love
more lithely than the sage linguists.
Her lips and teeth negotiate
its iterative straits and twists
as fleet as neon pulsing through
the uncials and cursives of
the night's calligraphy.
Her love
speaks volumes with his hands, grasping
the branching, transformational
syntax and deep structure of
a dialect of rounded vowels.

Their love's a love of discourse held
in conversations where, amid
a theory of performance and
a generative grammar all
fricative and labial,
the tongue's licked into shape.

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