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 Val ry said that a poem is never finished, only abandoned. All poets have palilalia, or should have....
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