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Press Releases 2008

CONTACT:  Jana Marcus, Marketing & Communications
(831) 479-5744
jamarcus [at]

May 1, 2008

Cabrillo College Hosts Award-Winning Writer Jimmy Santiago Baca
For Inspirational Afternoon On Life and Literature

Aptos, CA— The Cabrillo College Organization of Latin Americans (OLA) and the ASCC Student Senate are proud to host award-winning poet and novelist Jimmy Santiago Baca on Friday, May 16 for an afternoon lecture at the Cabrillo Theater, followed by a poetry workshop at Student Activities Center East.

Baca is the author of twelve books of poetry, two novels and a screenplay for Disney Production/Hollywood Pictures. He is the winner of the Pushcart Prize, the American Book Award, the International Hispanic Heritage Award and the prestigious International Award for his memoir A Place to Stand. In 2006 he won the Cornelius P. Turner Award, a national award that recognizes one GED graduate a year who has made outstanding contributions to society in education, justice, health, public service and social welfare.

Baca’s road to success has been a difficult journey. He will share his life experiences from orphan to criminal to award-winning author in an inspirational lecture in the Cabrillo Theater followed by a workshop on writing and critiquing poetry.

Born in New Mexico of Indio-Mexican descent, Baca was first raised by his grandmother and later sent to an orphanage. A runaway at age 13, it was after Baca was sentenced to five years in a maximum security prison that he began to turn his life around: he learned to read and write and unearthed a voracious passion for poetry.  During a fateful conflict with another inmate, Jimmy was shaken by the voices of poets Neruda and Lorca, and made a choice that would alter his destiny.   

 Instead of becoming a hardened criminal, he emerged from prison a writer. Baca had sent three of his poems to the poetry editor of the magazine Mother Jones.  The poems were published and became part of  Immigrants in Our Own Land,  published in 1979, the year he was released from prison. He went on to earn his GED and attend college and graduate school.

 Baca has devoted his post-prison life to writing and teaching others who are overcoming hardships. His themes include American Southwest barrios, addiction, injustice, education, community, love and beyond. He has conducted hundreds of writing workshops in prisons, community centers, libraries, and universities throughout the country. 

In 2005 he created Cedar Tree Inc., a nonprofit foundation that works to give people of all walks of life the opportunity to become educated and improve their lives.  Cedar Tree provides free instruction, books, writing material and scholarships. Cedar Tree has an ongoing writing workshop in the Albuquerque Women’s Prison and at the South Valley Community Center.
               Baca is currently finishing a novel, a play and three poetry manuscripts to be published in 2007. He is also producing a two-hour documentary about the power of literature and how it can change lives.

What: Poet Jimmy Santiago Baca

When/Where: Friday May 16, 2008

1:30 PM Lecture and Poetry Reading in the Cabrillo Theater

3:30 PM Poetry Workshop (open to first 40 students attending lecture) in SAC East, room 225

Free Event

Information: or 831-840-3346


About Cabrillo College
Cabrillo College is a leading California community college serving Santa Cruz County with locations in Aptos, Scotts Valley and Watsonville. It is ranked #1 in transfers to UC Santa Cruz. Founded in 1959, the college offers more than 100 academic and career technology programs that serve multiple educational goals such as A.A. and A.S. degrees, certificates of proficiency, skills certificates, transfer to 4-year institutions or for lifelong learning and personal enrichment. Its mission is to enhance the intellectual, cultural, and economic vitality of its diverse community by assisting all students in their quest for lifelong learning and success in an ever-changing world.





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