Jimmy Santiago Baca

2015 Spring Literary Series Authors

Adrian Arancibia

Adrián Arancibia is an artist, educator, and community organizer whose creative work depicts and comments on the lives of immigrants. His critical work focuses on literature and it’s relation to social space and popular culture.

Arancibia helped found the Chicano/Latino performance poetry collective, the Taco Shop Poets. He edited and contributed to the group’s Taco Shop Poets Anthology: Chorizo Tonguefire (Chorizo Tonguefire Press 1998). His work was also featured in the group’s two compact disc releases, Chorizo Tonguefire (Calaca Press 1998), Intersection (Chorizo Tonguefire Press 2003), and the book, Sugar Skull Sueños (Tinta Vox Press 2013). His work with the Taco Shop Poets has been featured in two national documentaries on Latino arts: Americanos (HBO, 2000) and Visiones (PBS, 2004).

The poet later co-founded the San Diego art space Voz Alta and continued programming and organizing for the arts. He has contributed to various literary and critical journals and magazines, including Black Renaissance Noire and Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. He completed his Ph.D. in literature at the University of California, San Diego in 2012. In the same year, he published two collections of poetry, Atacama Poems (City Works Press 2007) and The Keeper/El guardador (La Ratona Cartonera 2013). He plans to publish another collection of poetry in 2015 with Parentheses Press. He is a professor of English at San Diego Miramar College and continues to be involved in education and literature in the greater Southern California region.

Angel Sandoval

Angel Sandoval was born and raised in Brawley, California (colloquially referred to by La Raza as “Brole”). He received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University. Now he teaches at Imperial Valley College and San Diego City College. His poetic manuscript — Shades of Brown: Thoughts of A YoungMexicanAmericanChicano — was published by alternaCtive publiCactions, a web-based press whose website is hosted and supported by the UC Merced Library. In addition, alternaCtive publiCations has published his most recent work, a children’s story titled, The Road to Quetzalcóatl. View and download Angel Sandoval’s work for free at —

Iris De Anda

Iris De Anda a is a writer, activist, and practitioner of the healing arts. A womyn of color of Mexican and Salvadorean descent, Iris is a native of Los Angeles who believes in the power of spoken word, poetry, storytelling, and dreams. She has been published in Mujeres de Maiz Zine, Loudmouth Zine: Cal State LA, OCCUPY SF poems from the movement, Seeds of Resistance, In the Words of Women, Twenty: In Memoriam, Revolutionary Poets Brigade Los Angeles Anthology, Frontera Esquina, Brooklyn & Boyle, and online at La Bloga. She is a moderator for Poets Responding to SB 1070. She performs at community venues and events throughout the Los Angeles area and Southern California. She hosted The Writers Underground Open Mic 2012 at Mazatlan Theatre and 100,000 Poets for Change 2012, 2013, and 2014 at the Eastside Cafe. She currently hosts The Writers Underground Open Mic every Third Thursday of the month at the Eastside Cafe. She is the author of CODESWITCH: Fires From Mi Corazon.

Jimmy Santiago

Born in 1952 in Santa Fe of Chicano and Apache descent, Jimmy Santiago Baca was abandoned by his parents and at 13 ran away from the orphanage where his grandmother had placed him. He was convicted on drug charges in 1973 and spent five years in prison. There he learned to read and began writing poetry. His semiautobiographical novel in verse, Martin and Meditations on the South Valley (1987), received the 1988 Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award in 1989. In addition to over a dozen books of poetry, he has published memoirs, essays, stories, and a screenplay, Bound by Honor (1993), which was made into a feature-length film directed by Taylor Hackford.

Baca’s work is concerned with social justice and revolves around the marginalized and disenfranchised, treating themes of addiction, community, and the American Southwest barrios. In a Callaloo interview with John Keene, Baca claims, “I approach language as if it will contain who I am as a person”—a statement that reflects the poet’s interest in the transformative and generative power of language. Immigrants in Our Own Land (1979, 1991) was Baca’s first significant collection, one based on his imprisonment. In the Encyclopedia of American Literature, Catherine Hardy wrote that the poems in the volume “reveal an honest, passionate voice and powerful imagery full of the dark jewels of the American Southwest landscape (llanos, mesas, and chiles) and the chaotic urban landscape (nightclubs, rusty motors, and bricks) woven into a rich lyricism sprinkled with Spanish.”

Baca’s other poetry titles include Healing Earthquakes (2001), C-Train & 13 Mexicans (2002), Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande (2004), and Spring Poems Along the Rio Grande (2007). In addition to the American Book Award, Baca has received a Pushcart Prize and the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature. His memoir, A Place to Stand (2001), garnered the International Prize. In 2006, Baca was awarded the Cornelius P. Turner Award, which honors GED graduates who have made “outstanding contributions” in areas such as education, justice, and social welfare.

Baca has conducted writing workshops in prisons, libraries, and universities across the country for more than 30 years. In 2004 he launched Cedar Tree, a literary nonprofit designed to provide writing workshops, training, and outreach programs for at-risk youth, prisoners and ex-prisoners, and disadvantaged communities. Baca holds a BA in English and an honorary PhD in literature from the University of New Mexico. To learn more about Jimmy Santiago Baca visit

Dr. Leilani Grajeda-Higley

Born in Tampico, Mexico to a Mexican mother and a Chicano father who was filled with racial self-hatred, Dr. Leilani Grajeda-Higley has earned degrees in nursing science and psychology. She has also served as a nurse therapist in psychiatric facilities in San Diego.

In addition, Grajeda-Higley has an M.F.A in creative writing and taught writing and literature in the Chicana/o Studies Department at San Diego State University.

The author of a book, Understanding Pharmacology, she also edited Raíces y Más: An Anthology of Young Border Voices. It is a world-class collection of stories and poems by students at SDSU. A work in progress, The Power Dynamic: The Force That Drives Our Behavior, is her memoir/essay on power and dominance in relationships.

Sonia Gutiérrez

Sonia Gutiérrez is a poet professor who promotes social justice and human dignity. She teaches English composition and critical thinking and writing at Palomar College. La Bloga is home to her Poets Responding SB 1070 poems, including “Best Poems 2011” and “Best Poems 2012.” Her vignettes have appeared in AlternaCtive PublicaCtions, Mujeres de Maíz, City Works Literary Journal, Hinchas de Poesía, Storyacious and Huizache. Her bilingual poetry collection, Spider Woman/La Mujer Araña (Olmeca Press, 2013), is her debut publication. Kissing Dreams from a Distance, a novel, is under editorial review. To learn more about Sonia, visit

Teresa Terri Sue Flores

Teresa "Terri Sue" Flores is a corporate trainer and professional speaker. No matter what subject she teaches, she brings humor, fun and usually a little "song and dance (motto: keep them entertained!). Because her father I. John "Nacho" Flores shared with her his passion for teaching AND his Chicano pride, she dedicated her education to him and holds a B.A. in Liberal Studies from Cal State San Marcos, with minors in Spanish and Latin American Studies.

Terri Sue is especially passionate about bringing topics of immigration, wellness, and family planning to the often isolated undocumented Mexican youth of our region and started helping her community (literally) in her own back yard in the San Diego neighborhood of Linda Vista. With her husband A.J., daughter Lucia, and her amazing (growing!) community of family and friends, she hopes to promote awareness of the needs of young immigrants across cultural and language differences. Terri Sue feels that change is a "forever" process and requires a COMMUNITY of creative people to bring about discussion and positive change for the future.