Jimmy Santiago Baca
Jimmy Santiago Baca
Photograph by Gloria Graham during the video taping of Add-Verse, 2004
|Born||January 2, 1952|
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
|Notable works||Martin and Meditations on the South Valley|
|Notable awards||American Book Award, Pushcart Prize, International Hispanic Heritage Award, International Award.|
Early life and education
Baca was born in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, in 1952. Abandoned by his parents at the age of two, he lived with one of his grandmothers for several years before being placed in an orphanage. At the age of 13 he ran away and wound up living on the streets. When he was twenty-one he was convicted on charges of drug possession and incarcerated. He served six and a half years in prison, three of them in isolation, and having expressed a desire to go to school (the guards considered this dangerous), he was put in the same area of the prison with the inmates on death row for a period of time before he was released.
During this time, Baca taught himself to read and write, and he began to compose poetry. He sold these poems to fellow inmates in exchange for cigarettes. A fellow inmate convinced him to submit some of his poems to the magazine Mother Jones, then edited by Denise Levertov. Levertov printed Baca's poems and began corresponding with him, eventually finding a publisher for his first book.
Born January 2, 1952 (age 68) Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S. Occupation Poet Nationality American Notable works Martin and Meditations on the South Valley Notable awards American Book Award, Pushcart Prize, International Hispanic Heritage Award, International Award. Spouse Married
Immigrants in Our Own Land, Baca's first major collection, was published by Louisiana State University Press in 1979. This early collection included "I Am Offering This Poem," a poem later reprinted in 1990's Immigrants in Our Own Land and Selected Early Poems and anthologized in The Seagull Book of Poems. In 1987, his semi-autobiographical minor epic in verse, Martin & Meditations on the South Valley, received the American Book Award for poetry, bringing Baca international acclaim and, in 1989, the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature. A self-styled "poet of the people," Baca conducts writing workshops with children and adults at countless elementary, junior high and high schools, colleges, universities, reservations, barrio community centers, magenta ghettos, housing projects, correctional facilities and prisons from coast to coast.
In 2004 Baca started a non-profit organization, Cedar Tree, Inc., that supports these workshops through charitable donations. As well as writing workshops, Cedar Tree has produced two documentary films Clamor en Chino and Moving the River Back Home. The organization employs ex-offenders as interns.
Baca's poetry collections include C-Train and Thirteen Mexicans: Dream Boy's Story (Grove Press, 2002), Healing Earthquakes (2001), Set This Book on Fire (1999), In the Way of the Sun (1997), Black Mesa Poems (1995), Poems Taken from My Yard (1986), and What's Happening (1982). His "memoir", A Place to Stand (2001), chronicles his troubled youth and the five-year jail-stint that brought about his personal transformation. The poet Will Inman published Mr. Baca's poetry in his 1977 anthology Fired Up with You: Poems of a Niagara Vision (Border Press), one of the earliest anthologies to include Jimmy Santiago Baca's poems. Baca is also the author of a collection of stories and essays, Working in the Dark: Reflections of a Poet of the Barrio (1992); a play, Los tres hijos de Julia (1991); a screenplay, Bound by Honor, which was released by Hollywood Pictures as Blood In Blood Out in 1993; he also published at the end of 1993 Second Chances. Baca's most recent novel is A Glass of Water (2009). He published an original essay in 2013 called, "The Face," in ebook form with Restless Books, along with digital editions of his Breaking Bread with the Darkness poetry volumes.
Santiago Baca wrote the screenplay for a Hollywood production, Blood In Blood Out.
A film based on Baca's memoir A Place to Stand, directed by Daniel Glick, was released in 2014. The film was produced by Gabriel Baca, David Gruban, and Andres Salazar  The creators of the movie also made a school curriculum to strengthen and highlight the morals within Baca's life story, containing a workbook and films.
- "Jimmy Santiago Baca, Compton College guest speaker". Compton Herald. October 15, 2018.
- Some editions of Baca's work (e.g. Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande (2004) include references to Apache descent in biographical information, and collections such as Martín & Meditations on the South Valley (1987) include poems in a "detribalized" Apache persona which Denise Levertov describes in her introduction to that work as "semi-autobiographical." However, Baca is not a citizen of the Apache nation and does not claim this identity in more recent autobiographical materials such as on his website.
- "The Progressive Radio Show". Retrieved February 19, 2009.
- Baca, Jimmy Santiago, 1952- (1979). Immigrants in our own land : poems. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0807105724.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Baca, Jimmy Santiago, 1952- (1979). Immigrants in our own land : poems. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. p. 52. ISBN 0807105724. OCLC 4775791.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Baca, Jimmy Santiago, 1952- (1990). Immigrants in our own land & selected early poems. New York: New Directions. ISBN 0811211452. OCLC 21670326.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- The seagull book of poems. Kelly, Joseph, 1962- (Fourth ed.). New York. 2017. ISBN 9780393631623. OCLC 1006521218.CS1 maint: others (link)
- "Hispanic Heritage Awards for Literature". Hispanic Heritage Foundation. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
- "Cedar Tree Inc". Archived from the original on April 3, 2009. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
- "The Face". Archived from the original on November 11, 2013.
- "The Esai Poems". Archived from the original on November 11, 2013.
- "The Lucia Poems". Archived from the original on November 11, 2013.
- "Award-Winning American Poet and Writer Jimmy Santiago Baca To Read at WNMU, Detention Center". New Mexico City University. February 23, 2018.
- Movie, A. Place to Stand. "Buy or rent the film today". A Place to Stand Movie. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Jimmy Santiago Baca|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jimmy Santiago Baca.|
- Western American Literature Journal: Jimmy Santiago Baca
- "Add-Verse" a poetry-photo-video project Baca participated in
- Modern American Poetry
- Jimmy Santiago Baca recorded at the Library of Congress for the Hispanic Divsion's audio literary archive on November 21, 2004.