(jose garcia villa)
new title: and since it seems difficult to me, here is a hint: THE FIRST LETTER OF THE ALPHABET. GOOD LUCK! and an interesting conversation in the previous post comments, so check it out and comment!
so there’s been a lot of hoopla regarding the new Best American Poetry. something about how many of Lehman’s students are in the book and even his wife! barbara has written about this…i would hope that my teachers (and friends) would support my work if they were in positions of access (hint hint to everyone out there with journals and presses and connections) – alliances are how poetry communities are built.
and who cares if his wife is in the journal, i cant even count how many times i used poetry to get laid (eek!)(and if i tried to count, it would definitely outnumber the number “of women who attempt writing on such a scale” – we can “count them on the fingers of our hands.” (eek!)
Seriously though, IF you are interested in ethnic poetry, formal innovation, modernism, recovering forgotten poets, YOU MUST BUY AND READ The Anchored Angel: the Selected Writings of Jose Garcia Villa (published by Kaya, 1999, edited by Eileen Tabios).
Villa was born in Manila in 1908 and emigrated to the US in 1930. he published four books of poems and one short story collection. He was awarded the guggenheim by Conrad Aiken, was friends with e.e.cummings, taught at the new school, and was supported by edith sitwell. in the following picture, you can see him sitting in the back wearing a vest (below Auden – whose on the ladder)…the other guests include: elizabeth bishop, marianne moore, delmore schwartz, randall jarrell, tennessee williams, and others:
i was personally shocked when i saw this picture – a philippino poet in deep with the american modernists and i had never heard of him before! eileen accomplished more than just editing a selected volume, she brought his work to light for me (and i hope to you!). WHY he disappeared from scholarship for so long is up for debate. TIM YU explores this question in this wonderful essay …
what’s also great about the book is that there are essays at the end by prominent philippino writers/scholars (one is E. San Juan Jr., who i havent read, but i am going to def. check out his books). in the essays, we also learn alot about his life (i wont spoil it but it’s VERY SHOCKING!!!
Villa wrote a lot of ‘metaphysical’ and ‘erotic’ lyrics – these poems (to my taste) are quite dull. THE REAL EXCITING PART is his formally experimental work. like i said, he was friends withe cummings, and you can see this influence in Villa’s most famous ‘comma poems’. here is the first stanza from the poem ‘Anchored Angel’:
what do you all think of this poem? Villa did write a preface note to his method which i will post tomorrow night, but i wanted to hear everyone’s thoughts first.