Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A Place to Stand Paperback – June 10, 2002
The Amazon Book Review
Discover what to read next through the Amazon Book Review. Learn more.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
When he enters New Mexico's Florence State Prison in 1973, convicted on a drug charge, Baca is 21 and has a long history of trouble with the law. There's no reason to think jail will do anything but turn him into a hardened criminal, and standing up for himself with guards and menacing fellow cons quickly gains him a reputation as a troublemaker. But there have already been hints that this turbulent young man is looking for a way out, as he painstakingly spells out a poem from a clerk's college textbook while awaiting trial or unsuccessfully tries to get permission to take classes in prison.
When a volunteer from a religious group sends him a letter, contact with the written word unleashes something in Baca, who starts writing letters and poems with the aid of a dictionary. Reading literature shows him possibilities for understanding his painful family background and expressing his feelings. Poetry literally saves him from being a murderer, as Baca stands over another convict with an illegal weapon, ready to finish him off, and hears "the voices of Neruda and Lorca... praising life as sacred and challenging me: How can you kill and still be a poet?" Baca has a year to go on his sentence, but the reader knows at that point he has made a choice that will alter his destiny.
Without softening the brutality of life in jail, Baca expresses great tenderness for the men there who helped him and affirms his commitment to writing poetry for them, "telling the truth about the life that prisoners have to endure." --Wendy Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
A PLACE TO STAND is a memoir of Jimmy's childhood of abandonment, his career selling drugs, and his time in prison. This is also an account of how an illiterate prisoner fought for the privilege to teach himself how to read--and then to write, by corresponding with Harry, a Christian man on the outside, and by writing poems for other cons in exchange for books.
This is not a pretty history. The epilogue tells the shocking tale of his mother's fate. Racism plays its usual dirty role through much of the book. And JSB's account of prison life makes most prison movies look almost civilized. (In an interview with Jimmy in a Santa Fe arts newspaper, he said that he even toned it down for this book because many people cannot accept the harsh truth of prison culture.)
This book is an inspiration to all writers and a testimony to the human spirit. Visit Jimmy's Website to read about his work with at-risk teenagers as founder of Black Mesa Enterprises. And if you haven't yet experienced his poetry, try it first on CD. His readings will blow you away.
In his early days gallivanting with Marcos and falling in love with Lonnie I had a sense that Baca could pull his life together and that he would find a clean escape from the world of drugs and dealing he had been drawn into. I believe he lost the battle in the moment he sat in the car with the nine millimeter and a marijuana stalk between him and the enemy. All of a sudden his life was changed for good and he was drawn into a violent world with no escape.
While in prison Baca undergoes many transformations. He finds himself at different times a violent criminal, a lost and desperate man in the insane ward, and a dedicated student. It is within this time that I am overcome with sadness for his predicament. In many ways I see why he is in prison and agree that he made many terrible mistakes along the way, yet here is a man with a clear longing to make things right. It is in his search for education that I see true hope.
Baca finds his way within the pages of letters and finds his voice in learning to read and write. All of a sudden he has an outlet for his anger, frustration, humiliation, and sadness. This part of Baca's story uplifts me and brings me great joy. I identify with the need to write out my emotion and am thankful that Baca found the strength to learn what he needed to be successful.
In the end Baca comes out on top, building a life for himself. Even in the face of endless tragedy that befalls his family after his release from prison, Baca is able to find comfort in his writing. I'm touched by the sentiment and clear understanding of human nature that flows from Baca's writing. What results is an incredibly eloquent, beautifully written memoir of his journey.