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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.





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Thursday, July 17, 2008

entry arrow12:52 PM | The Dove, The Eagle, The Lion, and The Penguin

I was talking about the poet to my Philippine literature classes last night in our marathon session on Filipino literature after the Second World War. How delightfully crabby and naughty he was -- but also a poetic genius without compare. How he got booted out of U.P. for salacious (for that time, at least) poems. How he eventually found his way to America where he was cited by the critic Edward J. O'Brien -- who edited The Best American Short Stories series from 1915 to 1926 -- as one of only half a dozen writers who count in America. How he eventually stopped writing, with his poetry slowly creeping into obscurity from most of the literati in the U.S.

And so when I got the news via an email from the poet Eileen Tabios, I got goosebumps -- because, for the second time in two years, Penguin Classics, arguably the world's most-respected authority on literary classics, has picked up another Filipino author's work. In June 2006, we had cause for rejoicing when Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere made it to Penguin's catalogue. "About time," we all said.

Now, the maverick poet and Philippine National Artist for Literature Jose Garcia Villa gets the same royal treatment with the publication of Doveglion: Collected Poems.



The book is edited by John Cowen, with an introduction by Luis Francia. (Way to go, Luigi!). This is the Penguin website's description of the book: "Known as the 'Pope of Greenwich Village,' José Garcia Villa had a special status as the only Asian poet among a group of modern literary giants in 1940s New York that included W. H. Auden, Tennessee Williams, and a young Gore Vidal. But beyond his exotic ethnicity, Villa was a global poet who was admired for 'the reverence, the raptness, the depth of concentration in [his] bravely deep poems' (Marianne Moore). Doveglion (Villa’s pen name—for dove, eagle, and lion) contains Villa’s collected poetry, including rare and previously unpublished material."

I want Nick Joaquin to get the same Penguin treatment. Joaquin and Wilfrido Nolledo were already writing magic realism even before the Latinos came along.

Be a good Filipino, and buy the Villa book now.

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