Jimmy Santiago Baca
Born in New Mexico of Indio-Mexican descent, Jimmy Santiago Baca was raised first by his grandmother and later sent to an orphanage. A runaway at age 13, it was after Baca was sentenced to five years in a maximum security prison that he began to turn his life around: he learned to read and write and unearthed a voracious passion for poetry. During a fateful conflict with another inmate, Jimmy was shaken by the voices of Neruda and Lorca, and made a choice that would alter his destiny. Instead of becoming a hardened criminal, he emerged from prison a writer. Baca sent three of his poems to Denise Levertov, the poetry editor of Mother Jones. The poems were published and became part of Immigrants in Our Own Land, published in 1979, the year he was released from prison. He earned his GED later that same year. He is the winner of the Pushcart Prize, the American Book Award, the International Hispanic Heritage Award and for his memoir A Place to Stand the prestigious International Award. In 2006 he won the Cornelius P. Turner Award. The national award recognizes one GED graduate a year who has made outstanding contributions to society in education, justice, health, public service and social welfare.
Baca has devoted his post-prison life to writing and teaching others who are overcoming hardship. His themes include American Southwest barrios, addiction, injustice, education, community, love and beyond. He has conducted hundreds of writing workshops in prisons, community centers, libraries, and universities throughout the country.
In 2005 he created Cedar Tree Inc., a nonprofit foundation that works to give people of all walks of life the opportunity to become educated and improve their lives.
Baca is currently finishing a novel, a play and three poetry manuscripts to be published in 2007. He is also producing a two hour documentary about the power of literature and how it can change lives.
1984 BA English, University of New Mexico.
2003, PhD, Literature University of New Mexico, honorary.
Baca, Jimmy Santiago Lucia. Sherman Asher, Santa Fe, NM, 2012
Baca, Jimmy Santiago Esai Poems. Sherman Asher, Santa Fe, NM, 2011
Baca, Jimmy Santiago Selected Poems in English and Spanish. New Directions, NY, NY, 2007
Baca, Jimmy Santiago Spring Poems Along the Rio Grande. New Directions, NY, NY, 2007
Baca, Jimmy Santiago Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande. New Directions, NY, NY, 2004
Baca, Jimmy Santiago C-Train & 13 Mexicans. Grove/Atlantic, NY, NY, 2002.
Baca, Jimmy Santiago Healing Earthquakes. Grove/Atlantic, NY, NY, 2001.
Baca, Jimmy Santiago Working in the Dark: Reflections on a Poet in the Barrio. Red Crane Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1992.
Baca, Jimmy Santiago Immigrants in Our Own Land. New Directions, NY, NY, 1991.
Baca, Jimmy Santiago Black Mesa Poems. New Directions, NY, NY, 1989.
Baca, Jimmy Santiago Martin & Meditations on the South Valley. New Directions, NY, NY, 1987.
Baca, Jimmy Santiago Poems Taken from my Yard. Timberline Press, Fulton, MO, 1986.
Baca, Jimmy Santiago A Glass of Water. Grove Press, 2009 (novel)
Baca, Jimmy Santiago The Importance of a Piece of Paper. Grove/Atlantic, NY, NY, 2004 (short stories)
Baca, Jimmy Santiago A Place To Stand. New York: Grove Press, 2001. (Memoir)
Baca, Jimmy Santiago untitled Grove/Atlantic (forthcoming novel) - 2007
Moving the River Back Home, Cedar Tree, Inc.
Lost Voices, Cedar Tree, Inc.
Bound by Honor (as video- Blood In, Blood Out), Disney Productions, Hollywood Pictures, 1992.
Selected Site Readings/Workshops
Poetry Center of Chicago, Colorado State University, La Luna Community College, Institute of American Indian Art, San Diego City International Book Fair, Tucson Raza Studies Conference, Safford Federal Prison, UCLA, Harvard, Butler University, Weber State University, ProLiteracy Worldwide Annual Conference, Stanford, Teachers of English Studies CA Conference, Georgetown, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Francisco, Cochise County Detention Center
Selected Radio/TV Appearances
National Public Radio, Good Morning America, National Discovery Channel, PBS Language of Life with Bill Moyers, and CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood.