Writer Jimmy Santiago Baca to present multiple events at Utah Tech University

Sharing how he transformed his life by learning how to read and write poetry while in prison, writer Jimmy Santiago Baca will present at a variety of community events on the Utah Tech University campus.

While on campus, Baca will share his life story, read his poetry and screen the documentary about his journey. All events are free and open to the community. In addition to having written and published dozens of books, many of which were penned while he served a prison sentence, Baca also was instrumental in creating “A Place to Stand,” the documentary about his life, and has director and producer credits to his name.

“From a very troubled upbringing, Jimmy evolved to become one of America’s most celebrated writers. Jimmy’s story shows how to overcome adversity, celebrate new-found talents and give back to a system that was at one time against him,” Rob Gray, Utah Tech’s associate dean of library and open learning services, said. “All audiences will learn from Jimmy’s experience. This is a can’t miss opportunity to hear from an amazing writer, educator and person.”

Baca will kick off his time on the Utah Tech campus by sharing his life story during the university’s Trailblazing Speaker Series. He will present at noon on Oct. 31 in the Dunford Auditorium, located in Utah Tech’s Browning Learning Resource Center. Then later that day, Baca will present a poetry reading and book signing at 5 p.m. in the English Collaborative Lounge, located in Room 457 of Utah Tech’s Holland Centennial Commons.

To round out Baca’s time on campus, Utah Tech’s DOCUTAH International Film Festival will hold a screening of “A Place to Stand” at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 1 in the Dunford Auditorium. After the film, Baca will answer audience questions. Originally screened at the 2015 DOCUTAH festival and inspired by Baca’s award-winning memoir of the same name, “A Place to Stand” shares Baca’s story of leaving behind a life of prison, drugs and crime to become a celebrated poet while reminding viewers that it is never too late to turn their life around.

Also while on campus, Baca will lead master classes with creative writing and screenplay students in line with Utah Tech University’s polytechnic educational model, which emphasizes hands-on learning opportunities and partnerships with industry experts. Additionally, Baca will present to participants in the Higher Education for Incarcerated Youth Program. Baca will offer hope through sharing his experience of imprisonment with students who are completing university general education credits while incarcerated. Participants of the university’s program earn an average of 11 credits with a median GPA of 3.43.

“When we first saw Jimmy speak at an educational conference, he was such an engaging and authentic speaker, that we knew we had to bring him to campus,” Kelly Peterson-Fairchild, dean of library and open learning services at Utah Tech, said. “Thanks to his experience with DOCUTAH, he loves Utah Tech and the St. George community, and he was thrilled to come to campus again and share his delightful story and motivating message.”