“In prison, the guards would see me late at night writing poetry. I was the only guy staying awake in the dorms. The other convicts would tell me, ‘Dude, don’t turn around, we’re gonna kill this guy tonight. If you hear some shit going down, Jimmy, just don’t turn around.’ So I’d hear some guy grunting, and then he’d be dead. They beat him for a gambling debt or something but don’t turn around. I’ll always regret that. Because in America today, the government and corporations keep telling us citizens, don’t turn around, and they go on killing the poor, the prisoners, the immigrants, don’t turn around, and they keep killing, and we never turn around and we should, we should.” – Jimmy Santiago Baca (interviewed by Alan C. Fox in Rattle 62)

“It’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard in your life, to advertise a writing workshop and only get writers and poets. What’s the point in having a writing workshop? You want people to come who are not poets, who are not writers, but have kept their dream alive to be one. You know and I know you can’t honestly shape and forge a writer once that writer has already been shaped and forged. What you’re really looking for is the raw experience at the table. That’s where the great works come from. It’s where raw experience meets language . . . . That’s the kind of writing you want. There’s no critique; there’s no momentum, no character, no plot. There’s just the story, man. ‘I gotta get this thing down.’ That’s where the human journey expands and opens its wings.” – Jimmy Santiago Baca (interviewed by Alan C. Fox in Rattle 62)

“My only answer to anger is to work. Work it out, not for an on-the-mat yoga solution that professes we can heal from the curse of having so much money, entitlement, privilege—this is bullshit. Practice giving it away, heal yourself that way, be lightening the load you carry. Too much money creates all kinds of shit. Yoga-birds, Jesus.” – Jimmy Santiago Baca (interviewed by Alan C. Fox in Rattle 62) (emphasis in original)

“Never surrender your sadness because that’s like a flower surrendering the rain. Be sad; it’s a power source for your humanity, for getting in touch with your gentleness, with your corazón, with your cry of grief. Sadness is with us all our lives, but that’s freedom. When you live within that room of sadness, everything seems alive, and you feel grateful for breathing, for your sweetness and the sweetness of all life.” – Jimmy Santiago Baca (interviewed by Alan C. Fox in Rattle 62)

“It’s a constant battle to stay human, to remind yourself in prison that you’re a human being, not an animal as they would wish you to think and unfortunately how many grow to see themselves—it’s a spiritual and emotional cancer—all prisons are cancer wards, run by infected cancerous Lobotomites—people who have had their conscience pot-holed by survival needs—otherwise why work in such a debasing environment?—I don’t care if you’re a counselor or a priest; if you’re part of the system, you’re part of the problem. That means cons, too. . . . Prison manufactures evil and pain that continues to blossom its most toxic thorns onto families and in every sector of American society.” – Jimmy Santiago Baca (interviewed by Alan C. Fox in Rattle 62)