In ‘A Place to Stand,’ poetry overcomes a life of crime

Is it ever too late to turn your life around? For Jimmy Santiago Baca, it seemed every day was his point of no return. Before he could even learn to read, he was abandoned by family, swept into a life of crime and shipped away to Arizona State Prison.

Arizona PBS is airing Baca’s powerful memoir, “A Place to Stand,” which documents how he left behind a life of prison, drugs and crime to become a celebrated poet. The film, distributed by American Public Television and presented by Arizona PBS, premieres on Monday, Oct. 15, at 8 p.m.

Jimmy Baca

Based on the memoir of the same name, “A Place to Stand” takes viewers into Baca’s past and present to uncover how the power of the written word lifted him from the violence and pain that defined his early life.

With powerful revelations from family, friends and fellow inmates, as well as incredible insight into the early writings that first captured Baca’s imagination, audiences learn why it’s never too late to turn your life around – as long as you have a place to stand.

“Jimmy’s story was striking to me not just because it articulated the dehumanization of prison, but Jimmy’s ability to survive it,” said Daniel Glick, who directed the film. “If Jimmy could change his life in that horrific place, if he could grow, evolve, transform himself there, then anyone, anywhere could. ‘A Place to Stand’ is not just a story about prison and poetry, but about the infinite magic and possibility of being human.”

“A Place to Stand” is Glick’s first feature documentary. Prior to diving into the film, he worked in television, film and video, completing documentaries, narrative shorts and a feature film.

Baca, a celebrated teacher, poet, novelist and screenwriter, said his “story reaches into the hearts of people because we all want to express our story, the journey we’ve taken in life, how we find purpose and meaning, and the expression of that which gives value to our days.”

“This film reaches out to each and every one of us in a manner that embraces our flaws and celebrates our humble dreams,” he said.

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