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Jimmy Santiago Bacas A Place To Stand Essay

Jimmy Santiago Baca’s A Place to Stand shows the change Baca goes through while in prison for six and a half years. With several charges of drug possession, no one believed he would be a better person. However, through the power of poetry, he managed to become an incredible writer, he was able to come out of prison a new man. Many believe that the prison system needs a reform, that people going in are the same or even worse when coming back out. Yet, Baca was different, he managed to stay away from wrongdoings through poetry.

His poems , “I am Offering This Poem”, “Who Understands Me but Me”, and “Immigrants in Our Own Land” convey multiple messages of character transformation that the author depicts within his prison memoir A Place to Stand. Within Baca’s prison memoir, readers can see the evolution of a man who came from nothing into a better person, who seems harmless. He comes off brutal and evil, until eventually he gets broken, and knows something has to change. Exemplified in his poem, “I Am Offering this Poem”, he shows that his poetry is a gift. It is something that could be given when he has nothing. I am offering this poem to you, since I have nothing left to give. (lines 1-2)

Being in poverty throughout his entire life he realizes materialistic things, do not come from the heart. Poetry can be given when there is nothing, and that is when the kindness, and affection is most dearest.. When people are not able to give anything, there is always your passion, it comes from the heart and soul. Also, Baca repeats the phrase, “I love you” (lines 7, 13, 23, 30) to show the affection he has for the reader. He loves this person so much that he thinks his love is the only thing he can give.

Finally at the end, he says “and all anyone needs to live” (line 27) which shows that with the people hat they love and people that love them, it doesn’t matter what people have. When put down, the people that will help you back on your feet are the ones that love you. The ones show unconditional love are the ones people need in their lives. In A Place to Stand, Baca is forced to think about his past with no distractions. Being put in isolation, as many times as he was, could break a person, although Baca persevered, and was able to come out a changed man.

As a young man, he would cope with his issues with drugs and crimes. The fact that he now would have to face adversity head on was different for him. No onger could he hide away from problems instead he would have to think long and hard about them. He even teaches himself to read and write. Being in isolation for so long, forced Baca to start remembering poems (page 193). Baca began to realize that what he was doing was wrong to himself, and the people he was around, and if he were to get better, he’d need to push himself to do it.

No one can do it for him, he needed to have a revelation about how he would turn his life around. During his time in prison, Jimmy Santiago Baca, showed his resentment of the prison system. Time and time again he showed his idea of reform of the prison system. The government throws people in just to fill the profit and meet the quota set per year. His poem, “Who Understands Me but Me” is describing Baca’s time at the prison. In the first stanza, he repeats multiple lines with “They” either describing the higher powers.

He then proceeds the “they” with phrases that show adversity, with Baca’s response on how he coped with these problems. Such as, “They turn the water off, so I live without water,” (“Who Understands Me but Me” showing exactly how resilient prison has made Baca. Then, at the end of the first stanza, he finishes it with, “Who understands me when I say this s beautiful? Who understands me when I say I found other freedoms? ” describing how outsiders wouldn’t believe Baca if he were to tell them he was happy when all of these difficulties are in his path.

His troubles seemed too great for anyone to understand where he is coming from. The second stanza begins with Baca stating he is nothing more than a mere mortal man. He doesn’t have powers akin to God, he is just Jimmy Santiago Baca. But he is proud of who he is, what makes him Jimmy Santiago Baca, such as his failures, and his personality. He knows he is not perfect, but it shows how much he has changed rom the beginning of his life. He has gone through hardships such as depression, but he has also met prosperity with grace, and humbleness.

His life has been an never ending battle and he is happy how far he has come. The American dream, coined by James Truslow Adams is the idea of immigrants coming to the United States of America in search of success. Many immigrants come seeking sanction from the wretched dictators in their countries. Coming in search of a better life for them and the following generations after. Jimmy Santiago Baca however discusses what the American Dream really is in his poem, Immigrants in Our Own Land”.

He describes how immigrants come with skills and traits that were useful in their homeland, but are now being put to waste; Due to the overwhelming majority of immigrants in America facing an unreasonably large, high school dropout percentage. The immigrants come and are told that if they finish school, and learn new trades, they will get a better life, but upon arrival, they are immediately sent to hard labor jobs for minimum wage. Then, Baca goes on to talk about the segregation, that is not forced upon yet it is imminent in cities. For example, there are many little neighborhoods in New

York, such as Chinatown or Little Italy, that are largely populated by that nationality and race. Baca continues to explain how everything in America is industrialized, and fabricated that everything is fake and the American Dream is dead. “Our lives don’t get better, we go down quick” (stanza 3, line 9) shows how horrible life has gotten for immigrants. Finally, he discusses the ideas of prison, and how many of the inmates he has seen are immigrants. Without high school, many of them are forced to the streets, and into gangs. This poem was very powerful in showing his emotion of being the son of immigrants “Immigrants in Our Own Land”).

Jimmy Santiago Baca came from a broken home, doing and selling drugs, to a prolific poet and author. With his prison memoir he showed how prison has changed his life. It showed him the way of poetry. He even says that if it were not for poetry, he would probably be in prison for longer. With his poetry, he became literate and was able to write letters to multiple people, that were able to get him to change his life. His ideas coincide with those of the Black Lives Matter, in his poem, “Immigrants in Our Own Land”, that discuss his thoughts on the incarceration rate in America.

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