We invite you to an afternoon of readings in celebration of Philippine culture and two literary heroes who brought the Philippine experience to the public. Harold Augenbraum, Luis Francia, and Dorian Merina read and discuss the writings of José Rizal and José Garcia Villa.
Noli Me Tangere, the powerful and controversial novel byJosé Rizal (1861-1896), takes place during the Spanish occupation and tells the story of a young man’s return to the Philippines from Europe. The novel was banned for its critical view of the clergy, and Rizal was later executed for his seditious views. His courageous voice earned him the respect of the Philippine community, and he is now celebrated as a Philippine national hero.
A reading from Noli Me Tangere and a discussion of Rizal’s life and works will be given by Harold Augenbraum and Dorian Merina. Augenbraum will also read from his own translation-in-progress of El Filibusterismo, the sequel to Noli Me Tangere. Harold Augenbraum is Executive Director of the National Book Foundation and the translator of The Penguin Classics edition of Noli Me Tangere. Dorian Merina is the author of The Changegiver and Stone of the Fish, and a spoken word CD, Heaven is a Second Language. The short film, “MIGRATIONS,” for which he wrote and recorded the poetry, was awarded the 2008 Poetry Foundation Award.
José Garcia Villa (1908-1997) is considered the most important Asian American writer of the mid-twentieth century. Known as the Pope of Greenwich Village, he has been placed among the modern literary legends such as W.H. Auden and Tennessee Williams. Edith Sitwell has praised him as, “a poet with a great, even astounding, and perfectly original gift. . . . The best of his poems are among the most beautifully written in our time.”
Luis Francia will read and reflect on Villa’s poetry. A well-known writer himself, Francia will also read from his own book, Eye of the Fish: A Personal Archipelago, a semiautobiographical account of a life straddling the American and Philippine cultures, which was awarded the Pen Center Beyond the Margin Award and The Asian American Writers’ Workshop Literary Award in 2002.