Jeffery Donaldson is the author of four previous collections of poetry, most recently Guesswork. Palilalia was a finalist for the Canadian Authors' Association Award for Poetry. He teaches poetry and American literature at McMaster University in Hamilton. He lives in Stoney Creek.
‘Slack action’ describes the movement of boxcars in the midst of a train that brakes and then accelerates, where ‘reciprocal momentums ... meet and intermingle, the forward push / backing into slows, and the slows pulling off / pulling forward ahead of their kickbacks and jostles ...’ – where certain ‘single cars hidden / in the midst, scudding alone, neither pushed / nor pulled, left gentled into hiatus,’ coast free. This is the space of Jeffery Donaldson’s fifth collection: poems of middle life, of Dante’s forest of half-way, their speakers gliding with pent momentum between children who are on their way in and parents who are on their way out. Yet these are also poems that suggest all life is middle life: we live in a present moment that coasts between a beginning we can’t remember and an end we can’t predict. Few things are more difficult to represent in lyric poems, with their calculated incipits and finales; Donaldson has evolved a poetics of the middle, in which single words and images, whole poems, even, coast free ‘an instant in the long line’s accordion folds’ / uneasy breathing.’Slack Action
The Porcupine's Quill