Jimmy Santiago Baca | The Sun Magazine

Jimmy Santiago Baca

Jimmy Santiago Baca found poetry in prison, where he taught himself to read by sounding out the words from an anthology of Romantic poets. Now he rises each morning to read and write in his home in New Mexico.

— From November 2023
The Dog-Eared Page

Selected Poems

For two years The Sun was a lighthouse that guided me through rough, dark waters: Every line of mine that Sy [Safransky] published penetrated a little more of the fog called imprisonment. Every poem revealed my wrecked spirit dashed against the reef. Not only had Sy loved them, but Sun readers sent letters of appreciation, which Sy printed in the magazine. I’d never been complimented for anything, much less a literary contribution. My life had some hope in it now.

November 2023
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

A Place To Stand

It was no surprise that the judge had given me the harshest sentence allowed by law. The nuns had always said I was a bad boy, and here was the judge making the same condemnation. I was sure I was convicted mostly because of who I was, expunged from a society that didn’t want people like me in it.

December 2002

Tales From Inside

As Manny walked he was overwhelmed by the delicate, inviolable crown of the stars. Freedom was a feather brushed and swept across the heavens, now sweeping his tongue, his nostrils, his lungs. There was nothing more he needed. 

September 1980

Tales From Inside

Down here was only blankness — as if someone had taken the eyes and turned them around, so only the whites were showing, and that whiteness was what reflected down here to the mind’s screen.

October 1979
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Nuclear Energy — I’m Against The Stuff

Pretend that this is a movie. You are seeing two men create a curl of dust as they drive in a pick-up down a dirt road. The one driving is old, his features molded like leather, worn and stretched by a hard working foot.

August 1979
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