dove eagle lion

Jose Garcia Villa photo by Walter Albertin

Barbara Jane Reyes and Oscar Bermeo have launched Doveglion Press.

The term, Doveglion, was coined by the writer Jose Garcia Villa for a country that exists in the imagination. For me, this news comes at an interesting time, while I have been reading Garcia Villa’s curmudgeonly essays on “The Rise of the Short Story in the Philippines,” published in the Philippine-American News Digest of 1940 (published out of Los Angeles). He was referring, primarily, to the short story in English, and his essay was featured when the Philippine Writers’ Literary Guild (affiliated with the progressive American Writers’ Literary Guild) had released its winners for their first literary contest in three languages (Tagalog, Spanish, English).

I always think of Jose Garcia Villa as the poet, so it’s odd to read him in the Digest—as the U.S. geared up for war in the Pacific—holding forth on the short story, and railing against the “ignorance and stupidity” of American editors (of popular journals) in the Philippines, such as the Philippines Free Press:

“They had the ruling hand in the judgment chairs, and nothing availed against them. They shut out with the greatest hurry and distaste anything that was living and fresh. They wanted only stock ideas and stock phrases, all that was stale, dead and unalive.”

Much of the content in the Digest at the time of his essays was devoted to re-writing the Philippines’ history with the United States, as preparation and propaganda for war; and while Garcia Villa’s preference for writing in English went along with the program, I imagine his criticism of American editors must’ve caused a bit of friction.

Philippine-American News Digest. . . . . .Philippine-American News Digest

Garcia Villa—apparently uncomfortable with demanding nationalisms of war (past and present) and “independence”—thereafter ensconced himself on the isle of Manhattan, devoted himself to poetry, and slowly disappeared from public view into his own liminal “country” of poetic “fire,” where infinite and living possibilities existed.

I expect that Doveglion Press contains, potentially, such infinite and living possibilities, and I look forward to its publications.

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