baca's BLOG

A Special Announcement from Jimmy Santiago Baca

October 20, 2016

About three years ago I suspended my website in order to rebuild it from the ground up as a solid infrastructure to support significant growth in individuals, groups, and communities.

However, since assembling a great team, things have changed a bit: we're going to do our part in shaping and determining how we live, what our communities need and how to serve families in general. Our personal lives and the lives of many others depend on our engagement and we are determined to involve ourselves and continue to work hard. We've built a new website, with an infrastructure to support significant growth.

Soon, we will offer some amazing programs that have been in development for a number of years, including writing workshops and community outreach efforts. Right now I invite everyone to visit my website and subscribe to join in making this venture an opportunity for personal change in your world through the exciting work we're doing.

Everyone is welcome and everyone will help us shape our future. We'll reform the criminal justice system and improve how schools teach our kids, how prisons treat our fellow human beings, and how reintegration programs can impact ex-offenders. To apply our resources to train others how to care for Mother Earth, we have an organic farm that will be managed by ex-offenders and a retreat house for poets coming out of prison to offer them a safe and nurturing place to finish their manuscripts.

Our relationship with the global community will be dynamic, resourceful, vibrant and multi-faceted in meeting the educational needs of teachers, students and the public in general. We have our mobile library ready to go and we'll be serving rural areas where schools have closed down due to lack of funding. We'll have addiction recovery workshops, poetry, and memoir workshops; and we'll be showcasing our digital children book series soon. For the moment, however, we have single or bundled poetry readings available on the website; we have 45 poetry reflections with meaningful content for teachers to use; we'll soon be facilitating teacher training sessions via our webinar and panel platform and we've published our own textbook for use in (schools and) secure environments such as prisons and juvenile facilities.

One thing we're doing, in the words of our amazing collaborator, is utilizing our courses as a re-entry initiative that brings the incarcerated parent together with the child/children. Our plan is to have both child and parent work through the program together in a classroom environment over a six month period. We will bring the child into our facility visiting room with the parent to complete the program. Our goal is to rebuild family ties and strengthen the bond between parent and child through the program.

We will be a leading source for change. We intend to be around for a long time and toward that end, we need you to be involved. We will keep you engaged and interested in our innovative programs. Our three-year transition has been exhausting and has challenged us and stretched us, but in the end, it has breathed new life into our vision to spread peace and joy to as many as possible. We hope you will join us.

Jimmy Santiago Baca

October 20, 2016

Track Name:  "NWP Radio—#WhyIWrite: A Celebration of the 2016 National Day on Writing"

As featured on the National Writing Project podcast on October 20, 2016. Celebrating National Day on Writing, NWP Radio talks with poets, Hip-Hop artists, teachers, students, and community activists about when, where, how, and especially why they write.

The National Writing Project (NWP) is a professional development network that serves teachers of writing at all grade levels, primary through university, and in all subjects. The mission of the NWP is to improve student achievement by improving the teaching of writing and improving learning in the nation's schools.

October 20, 2016

Mario Zuniga’s goals as Socorro High School’s principal are pretty lofty. At the first Socorro Consolidated Schools Board meeting of the school year, he presented a plan he said would raise the school’s grade handed down by the New Mexico Public Education Department this year from a D to an A in two years.

October 11, 2016

Daniel Glick's A Place to Stand set to screen as part of Awareness Film Festival in LA

One of America's most celebrated poets wasn't born to a prominent family (like Robert Lowell) or to a cultured clan (like William Stafford) or educated at the best schools (like Robert Fitzgerald). 

Jimmy Santiago Baca was born into poverty, abandoned by his parents and began his literary education behind bars. Despite his unpromising background he would go on to win the American Book Award, a Pushcart Prize and the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature.

His remarkable transformation is told in Daniel Glick's new documentary A Place to Stand,  based on the memoir Baca published in 2001.

September 14, 2016

For Jimmy Santiago Baca, now a highly-acclaimed poet and writer, that moment when the power of words changed his life came as he was about to stab someone during a robbery he was committing. As he got ready to plunge a knife, he heard a voice tell him not to because “Then you’ll never be a poet.” He stopped short of murder and went to jail for robbery instead, but while in jail, after attributing the voice that saved a life to poet Pablo Neruda, he started reading and writing his way to a new life.

July 17, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A documentary on Chicano writer Jimmy Santiago Baca is now available online and producers want to screen it in schools with Latino and Native American students.

May 04, 2016

Carleton College will host a screening of the acclaimed documentary film “A Place to Stand” on Wednesday, May 11 from 7 to 9 p.m. in Olin Hall, room 149. Inspired by the memoir by Jimmy Santiago Baca, the film tells the true story of Baca’s transformation from a functionally illiterate convict to an award-winning poet, novelist, and screenwriter. Baca’s extraordinary life is both inspiring and haunting, simultaneously an indictment of our current criminal justice system and a model of the potential for human transformation.

April 09, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE — A documentary about Chicano writer Jimmy Santiago Baca is set to be released in June and producers hope to screen it in schools with Latino and Native American students. Director Daniel Glick told The Associated Press that the film will be available on DVD and online after being shown at film festivals nationwide.

February 19, 2016

The 5 1/2 years poet Jimmy Santiago Baca would spend in New Mexico’s Florence State Prison would be the last of his 25 years of institutionalization, in which he worked his way from orphanage to detention center, from county jail to a prison ripe with horrors. “It was nothing, nothing at all unusual to be stepping in blood when you’d walk down the steps,” former inmate Shirley Terell says in the documentary “A Place to Stand,” inspired by Baca’s memoir of the same name.  The film will screen in Bozeman for the first time at the Emerson Center for Arts and Culture on Thursday, Feb. 25, when local filmmaker and “A Place to Stand” director Daniel Glick hosts Baca and his family. Baca will appear at Country Bookshelf the next day for a reading and book signing. 

November 25, 2015

Poet Jimmy Santiago Baca talks to students at the Village Learning Complex about his experience of writing while incarcerated.  (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

October 12, 2015

Author and Poet Jimmy Santiago Baca enjoys a cup of coffee before appearing for a press conference for the premier of "A Place to Stand" at the Westin Resort Guam.

March 05, 2015

By most accounts, Jimmy Santiago Baca shouldn’t be alive, let alone an award winning poet. Baca, who was born in New Mexico, is of Indio-Mexican descent. By the time he was five, he was in an orphanage, and he was a runaway at thirteen. He then went to Arizona State Prison for his part in a drug deal gone bad. And that could have easily been the end of the story. But while he was serving time, Baca discovered language, specifically poetry, and it saved his life. How a functionally illiterate man became a poet and a committed teacher is the subject of the documentary, A Place to Stand, which will screen tonight at the Oriental Theatre.

September 26, 2014

A Place to Stand, documentary, not rated, James A. Little Theater, 3.5 chiles

Daniel Glick’s documentary about Jimmy Santiago Baca, who, at twenty-one, was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison on a drug conviction, is a compelling look at the power of language and a searing account of life as a convict. Days into his incarceration at Arizona state prison, an illiterate Baca landed himself in isolation after a violent attack on another inmate. It wouldn’t be his first scuffle while behind bars, but A Place to Stand makes it clear that Baca has been fighting his whole life, one way or another.

January 03, 2014

When Jimmy Santiago Baca was 20, he was convicted of drug charges and sentenced to prison. He was illiterate when he arrived at the Arizona State Prison. When he got out five years later, he was well on his way to becoming one of America's most celebrated poets.

September 29, 2013

Maximum security prison — with the terror of watching his back, vicious knife fights, and long stretches in isolation cells — is where Jimmy Santiago Baca spent his 21st through 26th years. It wasn’t a surprise; he was a dead-end kid, abandoned by poor parents and raised by grandparents until he was 7 when they took him and his brother to an orphanage. At 13 he ran away, quit school, and lived on the streets. Selling drugs was lucrative, but when he tried to quit he was set up, busted, and after escaping a gun battle with the FBI, he turned himself in.

October 17, 2010

Author and Poet Honored with Luis Leal Literature Award

Jimmy Santiago Baca could easily have pursued a life of crime. Sentenced as a young man to five years in a maximum-security prison, he was well on his way. While incarcerated, however, Baca learned to read and write, and found he had a passion for poetry. After serving his time, he chose to leave prison not as a hardened criminal, but as a new writer. Now an award-winning poet, novelist, and essayist, Baca is the recipient of UCSanta Barbara’s 2010 Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature. The award, which is co-sponsored by the Santa Barbara Book Council, will be presented at a ceremony at 4 p.m. on Thursday, October 28, in the campus’s Corwin Pavilion. The event is free and open to the public.



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