Jimmy Santiago Baca

Jimmy Santiago Baca

About Jimmy Santiago Baca

Jimmy Santiago Baca (born January 2, 1952) is an American poet, memoirist, and screenwriter of Indio-Mexican descent. Abandoned by his parents at the age of two, he lived with one of his grandmothers before being placed in an orphanage. At the age of 13 he ran away and wound up living on the streets. When he was 21, he was convicted on charges of drug possession and incarcerated. He served five years in prison. 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.
Immigrants in Our Own Land, Baca's first major collection, was published by the Louisiana State University Press in 1979 followed by many other 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.

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