ON JOSÉ GARCIA VILLA
Discovering Jose Garcia Villa’s poetry, thanks to a new collection, introduced by Luis Francia , has been one of my most exceeding joys in recent weeks. Garcia Villa is a poet who exceeds, playing with grammatical preconceptions, forcing us to see, hear and dance the word by itself, and then beside, the next performer in the sentence.
A, bee,flying,to, the,end,of,the,world,
This is one of more than 50 aphorisms in the suite Aphorisms I,. I am taken to Mondrian and Broadway, Boogie Woogie, to the intense blue color cut-outs of the late Matisse. I think of New York, city of the future, spiraling skyscrapers of glass, to dreamscapes of social light-splashed optimism, not the dark metropolis of Fritz Lang at all.
Throwing, diamonds, to,peacocks,
Some background : I have perused Doveglion : Collected Poems for several weeks. I steal five minutes a day to read a poem. I read it furtively. Who is this Philipino modernist, Francisco O’Hara travelling rhetorical streets armed with commas, periods and a gift for word music ? Why does he spin connundrums in the Village ?
I knew Luis had studied with him. But I was too young then to understand the gift that Garcia Villa had bequeathed my friend. I know how to name that gift now. I see it in Luis’ poetry as well.
How shall I call it ? Build maizes with words to ensure that ideas and metaphors get a good workout on the way to the center of the garden where damsels wait,
where aproned chefs serve a plentiful feast of sticky rice and roasted pig.
Delight, complicate and celebrate the gurgling at the heart of the brook, that cascades down the page.
One can’t tell a poem, like a story, from beginning to end. Yet, one can, silly maker of precepts. One can turn the story around as well. We have seen the horror, my friends. We live in the post-post-post epoch. Yet, we fall in love as if love has not taken a bow before and we play with words as if they are the first meteorites crashing into our earth.
I feel first love and heaven-gazing wonder reading Jose Garcia Villa. Although I do not know how often he ate plaintain leaves and sticky rice in the Village in the mid 20th century, I am confident his poems will be read with coffee or tea after any course in any country where English poetry is the currency.