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A Place to Stand

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  1,021 ratings  ·  122 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 10th 2002 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 2001)
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May 29, 2009 mark rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: realists
This memoir was difficult to read because of the brutal reality of the criminal justice system that it depicts. This is not a "how-to" lesson if you're an aspiring poet. It is a reality lesson on the perverted American justice system, specifically if you are poor, male, black or brown. That Baca became the writer and poet that he is -- is only testimony to him, and his unique brain. Baca describes what prison is like, what solitary confinement is like, and how sensory deprevation transformed him ...more
this book is about jimmy and hes brothere mieyo there were little when hes farther first started drinking and getting drunk.he left hes family once in a while and wnet of drinking.jimmy was little always getting abused by hes dad. one day jimmys mom count take it any more she ran away with a white family and got married to a guy name richard he was rich.jimmys dad went looking after her and jimmy and hes brother got whent and lived with hes gramdma. after a while she got tired of them and then s ...more
Pg. 152-153

"Had I been able to share my feelings that moment, I would have said what I was able to add years later, lying on my cot in an isolation cell in total darkness. I would have said I felt the many lives that had come before me, the wind carrying within the vast space of the range, and all that lived in the range--cows, grass, insects-- but something deeper. Old women leaving their windows open so the breeze can pass through the rooms, blessing the walls, chasing away evil spirits, anoin
Jan 20, 2011 Courtney rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mature readers - no age limit, just cognitive ability
"After being stripped of everything, all these kids had left was pride - a pride that was distorted, maimed, twisted, and turned against them, a defiant pride that did not allow them to admit that they were human beings and had been hurt." - Baca, p. 21

It has taken me a while to write this review because the information in this memoir is so raw and disturbing that I had to remove myself from it in order to wrap my mind around what I thought. To be honest, I still don't know how to express in wor
This book is about a man named jimmy he has had a horrible childhood because when he was a little kid his mom left him and his brother, for a white man. They stayed at there granpa's and granma's for a little while he realy like his granpa alot, but he missed his mom a lot. Every day he would ask for her, his granpa said, shell be back soon,until one day his granpa passt away, Jimmy and his brother had to stay in a orpanage until he was 12 or 13 he had to move to this other place. He started to ...more
This book has helped me to appreciate the innate intelligence that I must continuously search for within me. This book has challenged me to refuse the internalization of detrimental stereotypes and societal norms that are imposed on my Chicano culture. This book forces me to recognize the sadness that the New Mexican must experience when clashing with the gringo culture. This book has inspired me to see past the thorns of my heritage and into the sacred blooms that are rarely discovered in my br ...more
Barbara Mcpherson
Reading Baca's memoir is a painful process, as most of the people he loves seem to abandon him; however, his love for language and honest telling of what it takes to survive in prison is a gift to most of us who are ignorant about such a world.
Rarely does the average person get a glimpse of life behind bars in a maximum-security prison. Our understanding of the criminal mind, the US judicial system, and the intimacies of life in prison are limited to a great degree by what Hollywood would have us believe. In his memoir, A Place to Stand, Jimmy Santiago Baca offers his reader the opportunity to know the circumstances, motivation, and intent of one condemned man: himself.

We are led by the hand through his traumatizing childhood where B
José-antonio Orosco
Baca has always been one of my favorite poets. His work captures the sights, sounds, and feels of the Chicano neighborhoods of the Albuquerque where I grew up.

His story of a young illiterate man who became a poet to save himself in prison is amazing and signals that no human being should be completely written off as wasted.
This book reminds me of the importance of literacy and gives me hope like no other book has. Read it and then learn more about the Cedar Tree organization, which provides writing workshops to people in deprived communities, prisons, detention centers, and schools for at-risk youth. Thank you for this book and your work, Jimmy!
Nicole Serrano
The memoir by Baca "A Place to Stand" was a light read about a young boy who grows up in correctional behavior institutions for the unjust reasons and ends up in numerous bad situations. It really makes you wonder if these correction reform system are really creating results.

Bacca was born into a low income family in estancia. He lived with his mother and father who was an alcoholic as well as his two older sibling: his older sister and Mieyo, his older brother. After series of events his mother
David Corbett
An incredible prison memoir but also a heartbreaking view into the troubled life of a thoughtful boy abandoned by his mother and left to fend for himself by his own wits. A story of family, crime, solitude, desire, ambition and the never-ending drive to fulfil the human heart.
Catherine Theriault
This book is a perennial favorite with students. I'm currently teaching it to students who say they "don't read", however they are fully engaged in Baca's life story, and they are even reading his poetry on their own. All good signs of a teachable book.
Excellently written memoir about one man's spiritual journey through parental abandonment and surviving the brutality of an unjust penal code. In a way, A Place to Stand demonstrates the effects on humans when society at large rejects one's culture.
Dustin Hanvey
In this text being used for my course this Fall, Jimmy Santiago Baca gives a harrowing description of his life from abandonment in New Mexico to drug dealing to prison and release. In the process, he inspires us by not hiding the darker details of his life and how prison made those qualities more dangerous for him and others in the penal system. Amazingly, he managed to teach himself to read while in solitary confinement and found new power in literacy and poetry. Words saved his life. I would h ...more
Really powerful. His story is why I love to read memoirs so much, but this one is a much higher writing quality than a lot of memoirs.
Dasha Slepenkina
I had met Jimmy Santiago Baca several days ago, when he was giving a talk at a highschool. I cannot stress how incredible it was to see him hold down an entire auditorium of restless highschoolers. He is an intensely intelligent and powerful person, but at the same time deeply sensitive and loving. His entire talk was centered around pushing these kids forward in life, while his book is written to protest against the injustices that our justice system perpetuates against minorities and the poor. ...more
Jul 21, 2007 Megh rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Latino Lit
This was one of the first books of the Latino Lit genre that I read and I loved it. Jimmy's story is heartbreaking and hopeful.
Read this for Chicano lit class. One of my faves. Couldn't put it down.
Courtney Cerefice
I loved this book, real characters, not contrived, believable.
This man's life is down right depressing. It opens your eyes to the horrible things that happen in prisons, and there is no hope for changing it. Granted these are criminals but not being allowed to get an education being subjected to physical abuse from guards and other inmates, it's just not right. In addition, Jimmy discusses how much he wrote in prison and how it helped him deal, which as a writer I already was well aware of. The question my book club asked was if he hadn't gotten published ...more
From the prologue the reader knows that the story of Jimmy Baca will not be a happy one, yet there is a hint of hope and purpose. From the first sentence you are drawn into Jimmy's world...

"I was five years old the first time I ever set foot in prison."

Ultimately he tells a story of redemption, but first you journey with him and his people a veritable "trail of tears" -- pain, injustice, abuse, , passion, mercy, betrayal, friendship. Like Gandhi, Mandela, and Malamud's "Fixer", Baca's choices se
Dec 30, 2008 Anne rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoir
I can think of SO many people who ought to read this book. Part of Baca's reason for writing was to let people know what prisoners have to endure. This isn't rehabilitation or even punishment, it's deliberate negligence to the point of sadism.
I admire the author's determination in teaching himself to read and to express himself well. With so much material to choose from, the book covers the right things, I think, to give this memoir a plot with a satisfying beginning, middle and end.
I did have
I really enjoyed this book. It was long, hard to get through, and at times it felt overwritten and a little too drawn-out, but by the end I was shedding tears.

Jimmy Santiago Baca--now a prized poet--grew up in New Mexico in an impoverished, broken family. Although he cherishes he memories with his grandparents in their small, rural village of Estancia, his life fell apart when his alcohol father abandoned the family and his mother left to marry a white man who wanted her to keep her Hispanic her
Ada Restrepo
May 18, 2009 Ada Restrepo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: my Texan and Chicano friends
A Place to Stand, was written by Jimmy Santiago Baca, a Chicano writer introduced to me for first time in the English class I am taking at the City College of San Francisco.

A Place to Stand is an autobiography that details the struggles Baca had to face in order to become a famous writer. But his struggles are not like the ones any writer has to confront… Baca was the product of a mixed family in which he couldn’t fit. The book takes us to his childhood in his hometown in New Mexico, growing up
This book is a memoir of Jimmy Santiago Baca's life. He talks about his many struggles. His life starts off with how he remembers seeing his dad in jail. He was often surrounded by violence. And sadly, his parents abandoned him at the age of two. He lived with his grandmother who told him his parents would come back when they were ready. In school he wasn't doing very well, for he had no idea how to read and write;however, when her was in prison he taught himself how to read and write. Through w ...more
In A Place to Stand Jimmy Santiago Baca chronicles a life begun with an acute awareness of lack, plummeting into a world of punishment for a life he didn’t know better than to lead. I’m both heartbroken and uplifted by Baca’s story. I found myself wanting at some times to comfort him and tell him that there is more to life than he realizes, while other times I wanted to smack him for making what he knew in his heart to be clearly wrong decisions.

In his early days gallivanting with Marcos and fa
Nov 30, 2012 Vivian is currently reading it
The novel a place to stand by jimmy Santiago Baca is a biography of jimmy and his life growing up. Jimmy suffered a lot throughout his life. His dad being an alcoholic and his mother ended up leaving his family for a white man named Richard. The mom lived a very wealthy lifestyle and left jimmy and his two other siblings with jimmy’s grandparents. Jimmy’s grandfather died and jimmy’s grandma sent jimmy and his brother to an orphanage and stayed with jimmy’s sister. Jimmy ran away from the orphan ...more
Read this book. JS Baca is an amazing poet and this is his memoir. Baca was really important to me in college. He was maybe the first poet I read who helped me realize that poetry doesn't have to be in stuffy textbooks and written by old, dead white men. Healing Earthquakes and Black Mesa Poems changed my perception of poetry. So when I saw that he had a memoir, I started reading it immediately. I had had no idea what his life had been like. Baca did not learn how to read until he was 21 years o ...more
Jessica Loomis
This book is about many things, but most profoundly it is about the birth of the soul through the discovery of creativity through language. It is about survival through poetry, the awakening of a poet. Jimmy Santiago Baca's rough childhood lead him towards crime and drugs, and in his early-twenties, he found himself sentenced to five years in a maximum security prison. Unlike many, Santiago was able to rehabilitate himself by teaching himself how to read and write, finding inspiration in Neruda, ...more
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Jimmy Santiago Baca of Apache and Chicano descent is an American poet and writer.
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“I culled poetry from odors, sounds, faces, and ordinary events occurring around me. Breezes bulged me as if I were cloth; sounds nicked their marks on my nerves; objects made impressions on my sight as if in clay. There, in the soft language, life centered and ground itself in me and I was flowing with the grain of the universe. Language placed my life experiences in a new context, freeing me for the moment to become with air as air, with clouds as clouds, from which new associations arose to engage me in present life in a more purposeful way. ” 8 likes
“I sat back in my wooden chair as they signed the paperwork and stared down at the arm rests, studying the various layers of paint, the chips and cracks. How many hands had gripped them? I wondered. What lives were attached to those hands, what dreams were shattered, what sorrows were they trying to squeeze out of their souls?” 5 likes
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