Cover image for Winter poems along the Rio Grande
Winter poems along the Rio Grande
Baca, Jimmy Santiago, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New Directions, [2004]

Physical Description:
101 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
"New Directions paperbook original, NDP987."

"New Directions book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3552.A254 W56 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A romantic and a populist, Jimmy Santiago Baca celebrates nature and creativity: the power of becoming more the river than myself" in Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande . These poems are an expansive meditation on Baca's spiritual life, punctuated always with his feetrepeatedly, rhythmicallyon the ground as he runs every morning along the river. Baca contemplates his old life, his new love, his family and friends, those living and those dead, injustices and victories, and Chicano culture. As Denise Levertov remarked, Baca "writes with unconcealed passion" and "manifests both an intense lyricism and that transformative vision which perceives the mythical and archetypal significance of life events." "

Author Notes

Jimmy Santiago Baca was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1952. His parents abandoned him at the age of two, and he lived with his grandmother for several years before being placed in an orphanage. A runaway at age thirteen, Baca was sentenced to five years in a maximum security prison at the age of twenty-one for drug offenses. It was in prison that he learned to read and write and began to compose poetry. His book Martin & Meditations on the South Valley, a pair of long narrative poems, won an American Book Award in 1988. In addition to his poetry collections and stories, Baca wrote the screenplay for the movie Bound by Honor, which was released by Hollywood Pictures in 1993.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The inspiring and romantic aura of the riverine Mexican border, its flora and its fauna suffuse this very clear book-length sequence from Baca, author of Black Mesa Poems, the memoir A Place to Stand, as well as books of stories and essays. These 39 poems-all long-lined, casual and determinedly optimistic-largely eschew the tales of hardship that mark earlier work, focusing instead on Baca's present-day projects and dreams; "running along this path every other day" through the river valley, he hopes to "keep my connection to the spirits strong,/ keep my work spiritual," explaining how "the river in me sings my gratefulness to you and others," "my grief rain-tears, my joyous natural-spring laughter." Baca seeks a Whitmanesque voice that aims toward human universals, while remaining grounded in his Chicano ancestry. A "Rio Grande bosque" (forest) "on the verge of bursting forth with spring" becomes an Edenic refuge and a symbol for everything and everyone else his speaker loves: his faith, his America, and (especially late in the book) the mother of his children: "you on the bed, nursing our son,/ your laughter a prayer to the wind." While many of the images and themes here are predictable, but readers who have followed Baca this far will certainly want to come along for his heartfelt exploration of the American Southwest and of "the contradictions/ that come with being human." (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It's no wonder that Mexican American poet Baca is champion of the International Poetry Slam; his fervent writing hooks you in and leaves you breathless. This collection, "on the verge of bursting forth/ with spring/ transparent energy/ exchanged/ engaged," considers the river that both unites and divides the two countries that make up Baca's patrimony. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.