JOSE GARCIA VILLA: PHILIPPINES WRITER


Jose Garcia Villa is wearing a vest and is seated in the back.
This picture, taken in 1945, includes Dame Edith Sitwell, Tennessee Williams, and others.

 

POEMS BY JOSE GARCIA VILLA



Lyric 17
I can no more hear Love’s
Voice. No more moves
The mouth of her. Birds
No more sing. Words
I speak return lonely.
Flowers I pick turn ghostly.
Fire that I burn glows
Pale. No more blows
The wind. Time tells
No more truth. Bells
Ring no more in me.
I am all alone singly.
Lonely rests my head.
—O my God! I am dead.


Lyric 57
My most. My most. O my lost!
O my bright, my ineradicable ghost.
At whose bright coast God seeks
Shelter and is lost is lost. O
Coast of Brightness. O cause of
Grief. O rose of purest grief.
O thou in my breast so stark and
Holy-bright. O thou melancholy
Light. Me. Me. My own perfidy.
O my most my most, O the bright
The beautiful the terrible Accost.


Lyric 22
O lovely. O lovely as panther. O
Creation’s supremest dissenter.
Enter. Teach me thy luminous ire.
O jewelled, pacing, night-displacing
Fire. O night’s nimble-dancing, No-
Saying lyre. Embrace me. Defy me.
Reave me. None shall defend me.
Not God. Not I. Purify me. Consume
Me. Disintegrate me to thy ecstasy.
O lovely and without mercy. O dark-
Footed divinity. O lovely and terrible.
O death irreducible. O unimpeachable.

 


Fragment by Jose Garcia Villa

Anchored Angel
And,lay,he,down,the,golden,father,
(Genesis’,fist,all,gentle,now).
between,the,Wall,of,China,and,
The,tiger,tree(his,centuries,his,
Aerials,of,light)…
Anchored,entire,angel!
He,in,his,estate,miracle,and,living,dew,
His,fuses,gold,his,cobalts,love,
And,in,his,eyepits,
O,under,the,liontelling,sun—
The,zeta,truth—the,swift,red,Christ.

Reprinted by permission of John Cowen. Copyright 2002 by John Edwin Cowen, Literary Trustee for the Jose Garcia Villa Estate

 

Author's Bio:
Villa's first book (as editor) was Philippine Short Stories: Best 25 Short Stories of 1928 (1929, Phils. Free Press), an anthology of Filipino short stories in English culled mostly from the issues of the Philippines Free Press for 1928. It would have been the first anthology of short stories, but another anthology, Philippine Love Stories (1927, edited by Paz M. Benitez), mostly love stories, antedated it by one year.

[Earlier Filipino short story anthologies before World War II included one edited by O.O. Sta. Romana (ca. 1935); another edited by a Philippine-born American, Percy Hill (ca. mid- '20s), extant copies of which may be found in the Filipiniana collection of Leopoldo Y. Yabes, and in Morton Netzorg's Filipiniana collection which, after the owner's death, was  bought by the Francisco Ortigas family corporation; and a third copy owned by a Filipino resident in Portland, OR.; Percy Hill wrote Romance and Adventure in Old Manila, a collection of (probably) true accounts of life in Manila in previous centuries; one of them an account of the assassination of Gov. Bustamante by the Catholic clergy on the steps of the Ayuntamiento.]

Villa published the first (and for a time the only) collection of his short stories. Footnote to Youth: Tales of the Philippines and Others (1933, Chas. Scribner's Sons). Many Voices (1939, Phil. Book Guild) and Poems by Doveglion (1941, Phil. Writers League), Villa's first two collection of poems, were published.

Villa would publish two more collections of his poems: Have Come, Am Here (1942, Viking) and Volume Two (sic!) (1949); and Selected Poems and New ( 1958, McDowell, Obolensky). And in the '60s, Villa's Poems 55 ( 1962), Poems in Praise of Love ( 1962), and Selected Stories ( 1962); followed by The Portable Villa ( 1962) and The Essential Villa ( 1965) ; the last 5 titles all Peso Books.

In 1962 Villa edited The Doveglion Book of Philippine Poetry in English from 1910, under the imprint of Katha Editions ( 1962, Lyd Arguilla and A. Florentino); it was reprinted in a Peso Book facsimile edition ( 1965) ; a 3rd expanded edition was published by Caliraya Foundation (1975); a 4th revised edition by Anvil ( 1994).

(source: CCP Encyclopedia of the Philippine Arts (1994, 10 vols.).

In 1993 Selected Poems & New was reprinted in facsimile, student, softcover, newsprint edition by Bookmark for their Library of Philippine Literature.

In 1979 was published Appasionata: Poems in Praise of Love (1979, King & Cowen), as well as some copies of Bravo! ( ca. 1980), a little magazine for poetry, edited by Villa. And in 1999, Anvil published The Parlement of Giraffes (poems by Villa for young readers "from 8 to 80"; with Tagalog translation by Larry Francia); and Eileen Tabios edited The Anchored Angel: Selected Writings by Villa, foreword by Jessica Hagedorn ( 1999, Kaya Press).

In 1973 Villa was named National Artist for Literature. Earlier, he was given a doctoral degree (honoris causa) for "humane letters" by Far Eastern University and later by the University of the Philippines.

(Villa's Bio by Alberto Florentino)

 


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