Worldwide poetry readings on March 21, 2012 : Homage To Rabindranath Tagore, Aimé Césaire and Pablo Neruda
Rabindranath Tagore, Aimé Césaire and Pablo Neruda – poet activists and historic figures from different geo-cultural spheres (Asia, Africa/Caribbean, Europe and Latin America) who wore their affiliations on their sleeves, were able to respond to the burdens of history in their time, from the second half of the nineteenth century (Tagore was born in 1861) to the early twenty-first century (with the death of Césaire in 2008).
Their activism and literary work challenged the contradictions of an unequal and unfair world system and developed a new understanding of their society and the world in order to establish a concrete and universal humanism. The work and paths of these three major writers are a reflection at the highest level of the interrelationship between the universal and the particular in understanding the complex processes of modernity.
Tagore, Neruda and Césaire defined themselves first and foremost as poets. Yet, Art and Poetry remain the irreplaceable bearers of mediation between human beings and the world. Reinventing humanism might be signify reading poetry in a more profound manner, hearing it more carefully in all its forms, encountering the new varieties of orality that express the dreams and revolts of young people.
Moreover, through their humanistic literary commitment Tagore, Neruda and Césaire realized, long before the ecological and environmental question took on the gravity it presents today, the crucial need to bring the material and collective development of humanity into line with nature. Their pioneering visions remind us that human beings’ respect and love for nature have long united the wisdoms of western and non-western civilizations.
Despite their historical and geo-cultural contexts as different as those of Asia and the Indian sub-continent, Latin America or the West Indies at the crossroads between Europe and Africa, Tagore, Neruda and Césaire committed themselves as active visionaries and proposed a dialogue based on the integrity of the human person. Their project was not to summon a court of history but to contribute to the emancipation of peoples by freeing them from political oppression and also eradicating the moral or intellectual slavery that threatens us all.
Furthermore, Tagore, Neruda and Césaire hailed the formidable explosion of knowledge brought by the development of scientific thought and technology in the 19th and 20th centuries. The three poets thought that was an essential but non-exclusive part of the adventure of human knowledge that must also be- nourished by the imaginary, inseparable as it is from life.
By questioning the relationship between dominant and dominated, the legacies of Tagore, Neruda and Césaire help to define the mission that concerns education: ‘building in the mind of human beings’ an order of the world that could make compatible the urgent demands of the universal and those of the particular. They teach us that all knowledge and all cultures are victories of equal significance and organic symbols of the diversity of peoples and civilizations.
Santiago B. Villafania, a bilingual Filipino poet who writes in English and in his native language of Pangasinan, is the author of poetry collections Bonsaic Verses (2012), Pinabli and Other Poems (2012), Malagilion: Sonnets tan Villanelles (2007), and Balikas na Caboloan (Voices from Caboloan, 2005) published by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) under its UBOD New Authors Series. He has been published in several countries and translated into several languages. Villafania is one of the 11 Outstanding Pangasinan conferred with the 2010 ASNA Award for the Arts and Culture (literature) during the first Agew na Pangasinan and also the 430th Foundation Day of the province on April 2010. He is a member of Philippine PEN writes a regular weekly column for the Sunday Punch.
A collection of haiku, senryu, tanka, haiga, and other poems in English and Pangasinan language. Order now at Amazon.com
“Santiago Villafania is a searcher with a seemingly insatiable curiosity and endurance. His quest has brought him to explore world poetry from points East and West. He is no stranger to sophisticated verse forms such the Sapphic strophe nor to the diverse permutations of the Japanese haiku. But he is not a formalist, he has daringly explored Asian and Western cultures in a very personal way and writes his mind with a daring, invigorating, aesthetically pleasing ease. In his poetry Villafania displays not only a breadth, but it feels very much like a breath of fresh air.” – Ute Margaret Saine, poet, critic, translator, past president of PEN Orange County and the former editor of the California Poetry Quarterly
“Villafania’s emergence as a poet is a fine moment to celebrate. Another voice from the regions augurs a richer body of writing that Filipinos can hold up as a mirror of our native culture.” – Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for Literature
"The publication of Malagilion: Sonnets tan Villanelles by Santiago B. Villafania should be a source of rejoicing for readers of regional literatures. This second book by Pangasinan's leading poet today is impressive in both form and substance. Villafania has created 300 sonnets and 50 villanelles in his own language that attempt to reflect the primacy of native culture and return the poet to the central stage of social life." – A Boost to Pangasinan Literaturefrom Breaking Signs by Cirilo F. Bautista (Philippine Panorama, 16 Dec. 2007, pp.25-26)
"Villafania is not only a visionary poet, he is a linguistic philosopher who codifies the origin of language and culture, dissects the myths and the common beliefs of the people against the urban legends, juxtaposes the literary tradition against the modern influences by dialectically infusing them in his poetic revelation of truth." – Poetic Revelation in Language and Culture by Danny C. Sillada (Manila Bulletin, 12 May 2008, pp. F1-F2)
"Santiago Villafania's Balikas ed Caboloan certainly has reinvigorated the anlong tradition of Pangasinan that for a long period of time suffered silence from the hands of writers more attuned to English writing. Characteristically anacbanua, Villafania's poetry echoes his predecessors and presages a promising era for young writers in Pangasinan." – Dr. Marot Nelmida-Flores
Translations of Erolalia in German, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Bulgarian, and Hindi language. And here is the 1st version of the poem published in The Sunday Times (Manila Times, 11.23.2003).
Six of my poems translated into Arabic by Prof. Abdul-Settar Abdul-Latif (English Dept., College of Education, University of Basrah, Iraq) and have been published in TEXT - the Cultural Monthly Journal, Issue No.13