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A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca

A Place to Stand (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Jimmy Santiago Baca (Author)

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204685,972 (4.11)5
Title:A Place to Stand
Authors:Jimmy Santiago Baca (Author)
Info:Grove Press (2002), 272 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca (2001)


Checked out 2019-03-26 — Due 2019-04-02 — Overdue



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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
The prose felt a bit forced at times, other than that this was a compelling read and served to further my passion for adult education and literacy in particular. ( )
  mkclane | Jul 31, 2015 |
A testament to how writing and literature can transform lives. Baca's grim memoir of a tragic childhood, some bad (although perhaps understandable) choices during his troubled youth, and his five-year stretch in a horrendous prison is both grueling and riveting. While it is true his prose isn't up to the standard of his poetry, the power behind his redemption through writing and literature more than makes up for it. This is not for the faint-hearted, for the violence is graphic and brutal, and Baca doesn't look away from the awful facts of prison life. This is not a book of easy morality, and I was left ambiguous both about some of Baca's decisions, and some of his attitudes. However, what is clear is that it's a miracle anyone could have survived much of what Baca experienced, let alone go on to be an award-winning poet and an inspiration for others to transform their lives as well. The book may be flawed, as the man may be (aren't we all?), but its value lies in the witness it bears to a man's ability to overcome rejection, abuse, addiction, violence, cruelty, heartbreak, despair and himself, to be worthwhile and useful in the world. ( )
  Laurenbdavis | Jul 10, 2010 |
A memoir of a Chicano boy of an alcoholic father, abandoned by his mother to his grandparents. Then at 5 or 6 his grandfather died. He spent the next 20 years in institutions, except for brief forays of trying to make it on his own. It was a life of abandonment, violence, and drugs capped by five years in maximum security prison. The story is actually about how he kept hold of himself through it all and his salvation in poetry. For the past 30 years he has been a successful poet and author. The story is well told and engaging. ( )
  snash | Mar 31, 2010 |
Lent to me by Jane Reed. This is an amazing book about Baca's transformation from drug dealer to poet. ( )
  kjacobson1 | Jan 22, 2010 |
Lent to me by Jane Reed. This is an amazing book about Baca's transformation from drug dealer to poet. ( )
  pipster | Sep 29, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802139086, Paperback)

Anyone who doubts the power of the written word to transform a life will know better after reading poet Jimmy Santiago Baca's wrenching memoir of his troubled youth and the five-year jail stint that turned him around.

When he enters New Mexico's Florence State Prison in 1973, convicted on a drug charge, Baca is 21 and has a long history of trouble with the law. There's no reason to think jail will do anything but turn him into a hardened criminal, and standing up for himself with guards and menacing fellow cons quickly gains him a reputation as a troublemaker. But there have already been hints that this turbulent young man is looking for a way out, as he painstakingly spells out a poem from a clerk's college textbook while awaiting trial or unsuccessfully tries to get permission to take classes in prison.

When a volunteer from a religious group sends him a letter, contact with the written word unleashes something in Baca, who starts writing letters and poems with the aid of a dictionary. Reading literature shows him possibilities for understanding his painful family background and expressing his feelings. Poetry literally saves him from being a murderer, as Baca stands over another convict with an illegal weapon, ready to finish him off, and hears "the voices of Neruda and Lorca... praising life as sacred and challenging me: How can you kill and still be a poet?" Baca has a year to go on his sentence, but the reader knows at that point he has made a choice that will alter his destiny.

Without softening the brutality of life in jail, Baca expresses great tenderness for the men there who helped him and affirms his commitment to writing poetry for them, "telling the truth about the life that prisoners have to endure." --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:59 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The story of Jimmy Santiago Baca, "winner of the Pushcart Prize and the American Book Award, ... called an heir to Pablo Neruda, ... [who] at the age of twenty-one ... was illiterate and facing five to ten years in a maximum-security prison for selling drugs."--Jacket.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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