Summer Sunset Lecture: Saturday, July 12, 7 pm, UNM Student Union Ballroom A
The Power of Poetry in My Life"A long time ago, back in early `72, when I went to prison, I was lucky enough to be put in the basement of a maximum security prison for disciplinary reasons. I did not get along with the prison administration, nor with the prisoner culture of violence. There was another answer to shape my life, to make sense of my past, to give me hope that I would not end up in this dreary forsaken hell as a repeat convict. One day when one of the guys on death row sent me a book and I opened it up and started reading, I found the voice that would lift me to the highest and give me the strength to fight for the life I wanted-- that voice belonged to Pablo Neruda. And then came other voices; Lorca, Jimenez, Hernandez, Vallejos, Cardenal, and so forth. I read voraciously, with an appetite that could never be satisfied. My soul was renewed, my mind ablaze, my heart passionately committed to poetry after reading these great voices.
Today, I continue to be influenced by Latin American poetry, fiction and painting-- so much so that I find myself running around Latin America interviewing poets from every country and their works continue to lift me, inspire me, and hold me steady in the storms that assail our dangerous reality today." -Jimmy Santiago Baca
(From NM Culture announcement list)