A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca
The Making of a Poet

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Jimmy Santiago Baca's harrowing, brilliant memoir of his life before, during, and immediately after the years he spent in a maximum-security prison garnered tremendous critical acclaim and went on to win the prestigious 2001 International Prize. Long considered one of the best poets in America today, Baca was illiterate at the age of twenty-one and facing five to ten years behind bars for selling drugs. A Place to Stand is the remarkable tale of how he emerged after his years in the penitentiary -- much of it spent in isolation -- with the ability to read and a passion for writing poetry. A vivid portrait of life inside a maximum-security prison and an affirmation of one man's spirit in overcoming the most brutal adversity, A Place to Stand "stands as proof there is always hope in even the most desperate lives" -- (Fort Worth Morning Star-Telegram). "A Place to Stand is a hell of a book, quite literally. You won't soon forget it." -- Luis Urrea, The San Diego Union-Tribune "This book will have a permanent place in American letters." -- Jim Harrison

About Jimmy Santiago Baca

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As an abandoned child and a runaway Jimmy Santiago Baca's childhood was spent on the margins of society. In early adulthood he reverted again and again to a life of crime, eventually being sentenced to five years in a maximum-security prison. After years of hellish suffering on administrative segregation and in isolation, he emerges from prison a voracious reader and a skilled, self-taught writer. He miraculously discovers a deep attachment to poetry that becomes his saving grace. Now an accomplished and celebrated author, Baca is the recipient of many honors including the Pushcart Prize, the American Book Award, the Hispanic Heritage Award, and for his memoir, A Place to Stand, he received the prestigious International Prize. In 2006 he won the Cornelius P. Turner Award, a national award that annually recognizes one GED graduate who has made outstanding contributions to society in education, justice, health, public service, and social welfare. Devoting his post-prison life to writing and teaching others who are overcoming hardship, Baca has conducted hundreds of writing workshops in prisons, community centers, libraries, and universities. In 2005 he created Cedar Tree, Inc., a nonprofit foundation dedicated to helping others improve their lives through education. Other books by Jimmy Santiago Baca PoetrySelected Poems/Poemas SelectosRita and JuliaSpring Poems Along the Rio GrandeWinter Poems Along the Rio GrandeC-Train and Thirteen MexicansHealing EarthquakesQue Linda La Brisa/How Beautiful the Breeze IsImmigrants in Our Own LandBlack Mesa PoemsMartin and Meditations on the South Valley Short Stories and EssaysAdolescents on the Edge / Stories from the EdgeWorking in the DarkThe Importance of a Piece of PaperBreaking Bread with Darkness NovelA Glass of Water MemoirA Place to Stand FilmBlood In/Blood OutLate BlossomsLost VoicesMoving the River Back Home
Published December 1, 2007 by Grove Press. 276 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Crime, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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In Arizona, a life as a drug dealer soon landed him a five-year sentence in Florence State Prison—an overcrowded, maximum-security facility where Baca turned to books as an escape and began writing angry, bitterly ironic poetry to purge himself of emotional turmoil.

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Publishers Weekly

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While readers may find Baca's poetry more dazzling than this prose memoir about how he became a poet, the author still manages to capture both the reader's interest and sympathies.

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