Jose Garcia Villa (August 5, 1908 – February 7, 1997) was a Filipino poet, literary critic, short story writer, and painter. He was awarded the National Artist of the Philippines title for literature in 1973, as well as the Guggenheim Fellowship in creative writing by Conrad Aiken. He is known to have 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. He used the penname Doveglion (derived from “Dove, Eagle, Lion”), based on the characters he derived from himself.
These animals were also explored by another poet e. e. cummings in Doveglion, Adventures in Value, a poem dedicated to Villa Early life Villa was born on August 5, 1908, in Manila’s Singalong district. His parents were Simeon Villa (a personal physician of Emilio Aguinaldo, the founding President of the First Philippine Republic) and Guia Garcia (a wealthy landowner). He graduated from the University of the Philippines Integrated School and the University of the Philippines High School in 1925.
Villa enrolled on a Pre-Medical course in the University of the Philippines, but then switched to Pre-Law course. However, he realized that his true passion was in the arts. Villa first tried painting, but then turned into creative writing after readingWinesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. Writing career Villa was considered the leader of Filipino “artsakists”, a group of writers who believe that art should be “for art’s sake” hence the term. He once pronounced that “art is never a means; it is an end in itself. ” Villa’s tart poetic style was considered too aggressive at that time.
In 1929 he publishedMan Songs, a series of erotic poems, which the administrators in UP found too bold and was even fined Philippine peso for obscenity by the Manila Court of First Instance. In that same year, Villa won Best Story of the Year from Philippine Free Press magazine for Mir-I-Nisa. He also received P1,000,000 prize money, which he used to migrate to the United States. He enrolled at the University of New Mexico, wherein he was one of the founders of Clay, a mimeograph literary magazine. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and pursued post-graduate work at Columbia
University. Villa had gradually caught the attention of the country’s literary circles, one of the few Asians to do so at that time. After the publication of Footnote to Youth in 1933, Villa switched from writing prose to poetry, and published only a handful of works until 1942. During the release of Have Come, Am Here in 1942, he introduced a new rhyming scheme called “reversed consonance” wherein, according to Villa: “The last sounded consonants of the last syllable, or the last principal consonant of a word, are reversed for the corresponding rhyme.
Thus, a rhyme for near would be run; or rain, green, reign. ” In 1949, Villa presented a poetic style he called “comma poems”, wherein commas are placed after every word. In the preface of Volume Two, he wrote: “The commas are an integral and essential part of the medium: regulating the poem’s verbal density and time movement: enabling each word to attain a fuller tonal value, and the line movement to become more measures.
Villa worked as an associate editor for New Directions Publishing in New York City between 1949 to 1951, and then became director of poetry workshop at City College of New York from 1952 to 1960. He then left the literary scene and concentrated on teaching, first lecturing in The New School|The New School for Social Research from 1964 to 1973, as well as conducting poetry workshops in his apartment. Villa was also a cultural attache to the Philippine Mission to the United Nations from 1952 to 1963, and an adviser on cultural affairs to the President of the Philippines beginning 1968.