A Place to Stand

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Open Road + Grove/Atlantic, Dec 1, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages
A vivid portrait of life inside a maximum-security prison and an affirmation of one man’s spirit in overcoming the most brutal adversity.
 
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. This raw, unflinching memoir 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.
 
“Proof there is always hope in even the most desperate lives.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram
 
“A hell of a book, quite literally. You won’t soon forget it.” —The San Diego Union-Tribune
 
“This book will have a permanent place in American letters.” —Jim Harrison, New York Times–bestselling author of A Good Day to Die
 
 
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Laurenbdavis - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

A PLACE TO STAND: The Making of a Poet

User Review  - Kirkus

A mercifully brief memoir of the Pushcart Prize- and American Book Award-winning Hispanic poet's criminal past, and his agonizingly slow discovery of the redemptive power of writing while serving a ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

PROLOGUE
1
Chapter ONE
7
Chapter TWO
20
Chapter THREE
43
Chapter FOUR
71
Chapter FIVE
89
Chapter SIX
109
Chapter SEVEN
133
Chapter EIGHT
154
Chapter NINE
176
Chapter TEN
200
Chapter ELEVEN
217
Chapter TWELVE
236
Chapter THIRTEEN
246
EPILOGUE
258
Copyright

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Page 21 - ... persuade me to harness my creative powers to the struggle for a better world. A waiter came over and I let Zosia order the coffee and the rice pudding for both of us. Somehow, I couldn't bring myself to address this youth in English, nor could I speak to him in Yiddish, since he would start questioning me about who I was, where I came from, and what I was doing in Canada. Some of those sitting at the tables had already cast curious glances at me. My picture had been printed in the rotogravure...
Page 27 - I was going to wake up here, go to sleep here, eat and live here. life at the D-Home was as predictable as it had been at the orphanage. New kids came and went. We woke up at the same time every day and went to bed at the same time every night. Every weekend visitors came and visited their loved ones for an hour. And just as I had done at the Boys' Home, every night, before falling asleep, I'd imagine my mother's voice whispering good night to me.
Page 14 - Mom was trying to impress him with her "white ways," but it made her look silly. It wasn't so with my father; he spoke Spanish and used English only when he had to. He listened to Mexican music, and all his friends were Mexicans. I never saw him with an Anglo. He never said anything bad about them, but he made a point to stay away from them. I remember riding around with him and saying, "No, don't want to go in there, too many gringos.
Page 1 - The captain shrugged, surprised at her, and led us past holding cells to the drunk tank. It smelled like urine and whiskey vomit. I held tightly to Mother's hand. The corridors were dark and gloomy, and the slightest sound echoed ominously in the hall. We stopped in front of a cell where men sat and stared at the wall in front of them. Some were crumpled on the floor where they had passed out. "iOye, Damacio, despierta.1" the captain cried, and banged the bars with his baton.
Page 1 - Did you have to bring him?" he asked accusingly. Then he added, clearly hurt that I was there, "I don't want him seeing me like this. Get me out of here." "No," Mom said. He stared at her. "Listen, you, don't — " Shaking with rage, he looked at me and made an effort to control himself. We stood in silence for a few seconds. Then Mom cried, "Stay away from us!
Page 23 - God to help them, as the halls echoed with the ominous reports of the guard's boots as he checked to see if we were all in our bunks and counted. I felt sorry for the kids in for murder, grand theft auto, or drug possession, because they were headed for Springer, a prison for teenagers. Low-Blow...
Page 27 - We woke up at the same time every day and went to bed at the same time every night. Every weekend visitors came and visited their loved ones for an hour. And just as I had done at the Boys' Home, every night, before falling asleep, I'd imagine my mother's voice whispering good night to me. I'd think of my father and brother; I'd see in my mind the carefree kids at school, older than at the Boys...

About the author (2007)

Jimmy Santiago Baca was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has written several books of poetry and a number of screenplays. His awards include the National Endowment of Poetry Award, Vogelstein Foundation Award, National Hispanic Heritage Award, Berkeley Regents Award, Pushcart Prize, Southwest Book Award, and American Book Award.

Bibliographic information