Author, poet Baca shares stories old and new


Photo by Sue Ruggles

MATC welcomed award-winning author and poet Jimmy Santiago Baca to the Downtown Milwaukee Campus for two student writing workshops, a presentation open to the public in Cooley Auditorium and a book signing. The MATC Foundation Inc. was one of the event’s sponsors.

Jimmy Santiago Baca is a poet that went through a lot and puts his experiences into his books. Some of his books that got him noticed are “A Place to Stand” and “Singing at the Gates.” He won the International Prize for the book “A Place to Stand” and said that he wasn’t expecting it. He was just sitting at home when he got a call saying he won the award.
On March 5, Baca came to Downtown Milwaukee campus’ Cooley Auditorium and talked about his writing and life experience. He also showed the movie based on his book at the Oriental Theatre that night. He tours every year and then stays home for six months and focuses on his writing. When he is on tour, however, he loves to visit prisons and the projects all over the world. He likes to help the people he visits and also give them some of his books.
When he was younger, he and his brother were in an orphanage. He would break out multiple times to see his grandmother. Growing up the way he did, he ended up going to jail. What impacted his life was the way he was being treated in jail. He had a feeling that it was wrong, and that is what changed his life.
Jimmy Santiago Baca is half-European and half-Native American. He is proud of his heritage. He said he wrote “Singing at the Gates” about Mexicans being happy all the time. His culture praises the rocks and trees and he loves it.
At the event, he also shared an excerpt from his new book, “American Orphan.” He had to novelize it so the people in it wouldn’t be mad. It is about a guy who leaves prison and how his life changed. The book should be coming out in a year.