The New York Public Library honors Jose Garcia Villa’s works

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress
NEW YORK – Filipino poet, literary critic, short story writer and painter Jose Garcia Villa is the only Asian poet among a group of modern literary giants in 1940’s New York that included E. E. Cummings, Mark Van Doren, W.H. Auden, Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal. Known as the “Pope of Greenwich Village,” Villa stepped past his ethnicity and became a global poet.

Villa introduced the “reversed consonance rime scheme” in writing poetry, as well as the extensive use of punctuation marks – especially commas, which made him known as the Comma Poet.

On August 6, 2008, Doveglion, a collection of poetry, including rare and previously unpublished material, will be presented at the Jefferson Market Branch of The New York Library as part of Penguin Classic Centennial Celebration. Doveglion is Villa’s penname (derived from “Dove, Eagle, Lion”), based on the characters he derived from himself.  These animals were also explored by E. E. Cummings in Doveglion, Adventures in Value, a poem dedicated to Villa.

Born on August 5, 1908 in Manila, Villa first took medicine and then pre-law before realizing his passion for the arts.  Considered as the leader of Filipino “artsakists,” a group of writers believe that art should be “for art’s sake.”

His tart poetic style was considered too aggressive in his time that in 1929, he was fined for obscenity when he published Man Songs, a series of erotic poems.  He later on won Best Story of the Year from Philippine Press Magazine, and then migrated for the US using his prize money.

Granted a Guggenheim Fellowship in creative writing by American writer Conrad Aiken, wherein literature, Villa was also awarded s a fellowship from  Bollingen Foundation. He was also bestowed an Academy Award for Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1943.  A National Artist for Literature in the Philippines, Villa’s brilliant pieces had lifted the standards of Filipino writers.  He is still considered as a powerful literary in the Philippines throughout much of the 20th century, although he has lived most of his life in the US.

Jose Garcia Villa died in 1997, at the age of 88 in New York – but his words, his poems continue  to live on. (www.asianjournal.com)

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