Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jimmy Santiago Baca's "Lost Voices"

Jimmy Santiago Baca’s Lost Voices Documentary

I’ve been thinking hard about the idea of becoming a revolutionary-poet, whatever that means. Primarily it means—I think—that as a poet on has the responsibility quite simply of imagining the impossible. And as a revolutionary one has the responsibility of making the impossible possible. The revolutionary-poet is thus the exact intersection between social consciousness and the aesthetic consciousness of language.

As writers our art is often restricted to official circles: MFA programs, books, workshops, journals, etc. If our art is only circulated among people whom may already believe in our art and our cause then there exists a form of self-imposed censorship. From a revolutionary perspective we must break away from these tendencies; our work must circulate primarily among those populations that are in particular need of conscientization.  

I am thinking now of the work of one of my favorite poets: Jimmy Santiago Baca and his work in correctional facilities. Here is an example of a poet whose beautiful words intersect in his actions. Jimmy doesn’t restrict poetry to another cell: the sterility of the written page. Jimmy takes his poems to the exact center of sterility: the correctional system. 

I’ve found—on YouTube—via the website for the voices behind walls project—another revolutionary project subverting the so called “justice system”( twenty minute video titled  “Lost Voices” direct by Jimmy. For those interested in poetry as social practice--or anyone interested in poetry for that matter-- this video is certainly worth the twenty-minute investment. Particularly moving was a poem, “my pen” by a prisoner in that video. (The poem plays at 16:50). In this poem the metaphor of a pen is used to takes us in a hallucinating journey from the incarceration of a person to a rebirth as a poet.

To watch the poem simply play the video here: 

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