Jimmy Santiago Baca is a poet whose rough and tumble early life is now the backbone of his work.
He was born in the Southwest, where he was abandoned by his parents as a toddler and ran away from an orphanage at age 13. Then he faced a criminal trial that sent him to prison. There, Baca learned to read and began writing poetry. He traded poems for cigarettes. While Baca remained in jail, his poems got out. Upon his release, he was invited to North Carolina by a fellow poet. Basking in freedom and the kindness of friends, he conquered his fear of authority and began to transition into a new chapter in his life.
Since then, he has released numerous publications and won the American Book Award for poetry. Host Frank Stasio talks with Jimmy Santiago Baca about his upbringing and transformation. Baca returns to North Carolina for a ticketed collaboration with jazz violinist Christian Howes and playwright David Gonzalez in Durham on Friday, Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. He will also be at the Levin Jewish Community Center in Durham for a ticketed fundraiser for the Durham Literacy Center on Saturday, Nov 2. at 7:00 p.m.