Jimmy Santiago Baca, Compton College guest speaker
Jimmy Santiago Baca. Courtesy Compton College Jimmy Santiago Baca, award-winning novelist, poet, essayist Latino Heritage Month guest speaker COMPTON — Jimmy Santiago Baca, award-winning poet, novelist, and essayist will speak and read from his works as part
Jimmy Santiago Baca. Courtesy Compton College
Jimmy Santiago Baca, award-winning novelist, poet, essayist Latino Heritage Month guest speaker
COMPTON — Jimmy Santiago Baca, award-winning poet, novelist, and essayist will speak and read from his works as part of Compton College’s Latino Heritage Month celebration on Oct. 11 at 11:30 a.m. The college is located at 1111 E. Artesia Boulevard, Compton.
The free event will occur in the Compton College Little Theater and is open to the public. The program will also include a question and answer period, book signing, and refreshments.
During his presentation, Baca will share how a past filled with adversity shaped his writing. Born in New Mexico of Apache and Chicano descent, he spent his childhood on the margins of society — abandoned child, a runaway orphan, and later ensnared by crime, which ultimately led to six years in prison where he taught himself to read and write.
Baca’s initial works were published in the late 1970s while he still languished in prison. Three of his poems were published in Mother Jones, in the issue titled “Immigrants in Our Own Land,” which hit the sales circuit the year he was released in 1979.
The author of more than 11 volumes of poetry and three novels, Baca is the recipient of several awards and honors, which include the Pushcart Prize, the American Book Award, the International Hispanic Heritage Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He was also honored with the International Prize, which he received for his 2001 novel, “A Place to Stand.”
More recently, he was the recipient of the University of California, Santa Barbara 2010 Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature.
Currently, Baca splits his focus between writing and his nonprofit foundation, Cedar Tree, Inc., established in 2004 in New Mexico, offering literary workshops, and outreach programs for the incarcerated, ex-cons, and at-risk youth.
The mission of Cedar Tree, Inc. is to provide underserved communities with the tools necessary to overcome hardships or obstacles to learning.
Baca earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of New Mexico and was conferred an honorary doctorate in literature from the same university.