Born in New Mexico of Chicano and Apache descent, Jimmy Santiago Baca was raised first by his grandmother and was later sent to an orphanage. He became a runaway at 13, and at 21 Baca was sentenced to five years in a maximum security prison where he began to turn his life around, learning to read and then write poetry.
Baca is now a prolific and award-winning writer. His awards include the Pushcart Prize, the National Poetry Award, two Southwest Book Awards, and the International Hispanic Heritage Award. His books of poetry include The Esai Poems, the first of four books in the series "Breaking Bread with the Darkness," Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande, Healing Earthquakes, C-Train & Thirteen Mexicans, Black Mesa Poems, Immigrants in Our Own Land, and Martin & Meditations on the South Valley, for which he won The American Book Award. His memoir, A Place to Stand, is being made into a documentary feature film. He is the author of a collection of stories in The Importance of a Piece of Paper, a novel titled A Glass of Water, as well as a guidebook for teachers called Adolescents On The Edge, coauthored with ReLeah Cosset Lent.
This event was cosponsored by The Poetry Foundation.
Recorded Saturday, April 28, 2012 at the Harold Washington Library.