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New Mexico State University

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Poet Jimmy Santiago Baca to read at New Mexico State University

In celebration of El Dia de Los Ninos, Dia de Los Libros, poet Jimmy Santiago Baca will read at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, in the Gerald Thomas Hall Auditorium at New Mexico State University.

ne of America's foremost poets, taught himself to read, and began writing poetry, while serving a five year prison term on drug charges. He published his first poems during his incarceration. Since then, he has won numerous honors, including the National Endowment for the Arts award in poetry, the Vogelstein Foundation Award, the National Hispanic Heritage Award and the Pushcart Prize. He also has held the Wallace Stevens Endowed Chair at Yale.

Baca, of Mexican and Apache heritage, spent his early years in rural New Mexico and his adolescence in orphanages. Abandoned by everyone he loved, he turned to drug dealing and eventually went to prison. Now living in Albuquerque, he identifies fiercely with those who have similar backgrounds. So in addition to speaking and teaching at colleges and universities, he also works with inner-city students, gang members, illiterate adults, prisoners and others in search of their own voices.

El Dia de Los Ninos, Dia de Los Libros, a celebration of bilingual literacy, is supported by the Southern New Mexico ENLACE Collaborative at New Mexico State. The reading is co-sponsored by the university's Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee, the College of Education and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

ENLACE, Engaging Latino Communities for Education, is a collaborative focused on increasing the high school and college graduation rates for Hispanic students.

Local poets also will read at the event. For more information, contact Elisa Sanchez, ENLACE director, at (505) 646-7927.