March 14

 Use your notes from your in-class Book Talk to write a summary/response to Baca’s “Coming Into Language”.  Begin with title, author, subject and purpose.  Then, transition to include the information you gathered about important scenes and connections to other texts within the anthology.  I have included a model to help you get started. While your details will be different, the format should be similar.


Ex:  In Jimmy Santiago Vaca’s excerpt, “Coming Into Language”, the narrator describes how he became interested in reading and writing.  Vaca did not take a traditional route to becoming an author. He was still “reading” picture books at seventeen. His road to literacy began only after he discovered a book on Chicano history.

(Now, describe one to two scenes; include one to two golden lines and make at least one connection to another essay in the anthology).  (2 to 3 paragraphs).




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Posted March 14, 2018 by tashak38 in category Uncategorized

About the Author

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area--Big Up to the East Bay

16 thoughts on “

  1. vinny perez

    “Coming into language” is about a young Hispanic man that had to struggle about being racially profiled as a murder due to his lack of education. while locked up in jail he grew to challenge authority by protesting his beliefs. he began to read more and more on inspiring authors and using his mind to open his soul and realizing how wrong it is why he is in his jail cell. He showed adversity to challenge himself and to not allow others to stop his goal

  2. Debra Earnest

    Jimmy Santiago Baca,”Coming Into Language”
    pg.50, paragraph 4
    Ashamed of not understanding and fearful of asking questions. He dropped out of school in the ninth grade. In a different but similar way I was as\lso ashamed of not being able to read very well. i wasn’t afraid of my teacher, but I was afraid of my peers staring and talking about me.It’s not a good feeling.
    pg.53, paragraph 17
    And for the first time the child in me who had witnessed and endured unspeakable terrors cried out not just in impotent despair but with the power of language. Through writing Jimmy was able to free himself and for once in his life he was free and have the joy of being able to write and share his story with others.I know what it feels like, to let something go that’s been bottled up for a long time.
    For Jimmy Santiago Baca, Malcolm X, and Richard Wrightthe passion for reading came to direct their lives. “FREEDOM”

  3. Cezanne Quinzon

    “Coming into Language” by Jimmy Santiago Baca, is a seventeen year-old, high school dropout who learns how to read and write while he spends time in prison after getting arrested. He was unable to read but he was able to “read” picture books. Whenever he works, if he has time he would read books and lock himself in a room. Also, the times he spent in prison, he would purposely fight so that they can send him to isolation where he can peace and quiet to read. When he said, “But then, the encroaching darkness that began to envelop me forced me to re-form and give birth to myself again in the chaos (pg.56)” I think he said this because he finally realized that its time to change his ways, after all years he spent he wasted doing nothing but doing stupid and going in and out of prison.

  4. Jaztin Andre C. Agustin

    In Jimmy Santiago Baca’s excerpt, “Coming Into Language”, the story was so inspirational like the story of malcolm X where Malcolm X before he can’t even read and write but when he started to read, he learned how to read, and write. Reading books made him a lot smarter, it made him sharp, and he used this words, knowledge, and wisdom as a weapon to fight for what he think is right. The story of jimmy was kind of similar with malcolm where they went in prison because of their wrong doings, but book opened their mind about many things that book can change people’s lives. Jimmy cant read books nor write at age of seventeen, he was a dropped out and only finish 9th grade, and he took the wrong path which made his life miserable, but books/writing changed his life. It sharpened his mind, he learned how to read and write. As he said ”Writing was water that cleansed the wound and fed the parched root of my heart.”(p.57) He learned a lot from his failures, and experienced and that books/writing motivates him to succeed. He didn’t let obstacles and struggles defeat him, all the hard work, all the sacrifices, all the sleepless nights, struggles, it all pays off, and now he made a lot of wonderful poems and journals.

  5. andrew villegas

    “Coming into Language”, by Jimmy Santiago Baca, Goes to prison after being arrested for murder and then finds himself through writing. Like in “Discovering books”, Malcom X points out that even “…Black professors have known little more than the most ignorant black man about the talents and rich civilizations and cultures of black man a millennium ago,” after his new knowledge from books. Like Malcom, Baca found knowledge in picture books. Without words, Baca knew that there was life and he and his friends were alive like those people he seen protesting like Cesar Chavez.

  6. Jaztin Yarnelle Agustin

    “Coming into Language” from Doing Time: Twenty-Five Years of Prison Writing by Jimmy Santiago Baca talks about the struggles and hardships he experienced in his life. The title gives us an idea of how he was hooked or captivated on reading a book and started learning the language. It opened his mind about things he didn’t know exist or could happen. It sharpened his mind, learned a lot of vocabularies, learned how to read and write, and made a lot of wonderful poems and journals. Although, he overcame the obstacles and struggles he was going through, he explained how hurt, and tired he was about life. He thought that life was really hard, but writing and reading gave him hope and motivation to keep going as he explained, “I wrote to sublimate my rage, from a place where all hope is gone, from a madness of having been damaged too much, from a silence of killing rage. I wrote to avenge the betrayals of a lifetime, to purge the bitterness of injustice. I wrote with a deep groan of doom in my blood, be wildered and dumbstruck; from an indestructible love of life to affirm breath and laughter and the abiding innocence of things. I wrote the way I wept, and danced, and made love.” p.57

    This story reminds me of “Learning to read” by Malcolm X because they’re story are kind of similar where it involves jail and reading books. Malcolm X started to learn and develop his reading and thinking by reading books on his cell for hours.

  7. Victor de la Cruz Matos

    In “Coming into language” describes basically the time he was in prison and how he could read and write. He had difficult times since he was young. He wasn’t able to read or write in high school. When he got in to jail, he had no idea that in jail was going to be able to learn about the magic of reading and writing. “Chicano history” captured his attention with pictures, he could learn to read and write then. The dramatic story about his second time in prison was the moment when he realized that the world of writing and reading was the most important gift that he could have in the period of his unfortunate life.

  8. Saud

    The author is Jimmy Santiago Baca and the piece is called “Coming into Language,” from Doing Time: Twenty Years of Prison Writing. I found the reading to be very inspiring because it showed the struggle of one man to become literate. To tell a prison committee that; “I will never do any work as long as I am not allowed to get my GED.” (pg.54;p2), shows great determination to free yourself. And, even though the prison administration use violence and every other tactic they could think 0f, he still remained dedicated to learning to read and write. When Baca reached that point where the line between man and animal is blurred, writing is the only thing that brought him back to his human self. “I wrote to sublimate my rage, from a place where all hope is gone,…”(pg.57;p2). This writing shows what great obstacles we can overcome in our lives with education; like Malcolm X who learned to read while in prison, or like Francisco Jimenez who learned to express himself through art when his words weren’t allowed to be used.

  9. Nikki butler

    In Jimmy Santiago Baca’s story he explains how in prison he was focused on learning to read and write and get his G.E.D since he was a High School drop out and didnt know how to read and write. He had been put in jail twice and has been determined to learn how to read and write.

  10. Huijun

    “Coming into Language” was excerpted from Doing Time: Twenty-Five Years of Prison Writing by Jimmy Santiago Baca. In this excerpt, the narrator, who dropped out of school in the ninth grade, didn’t know how to read at seventeen. One night, a book, which is talk about Chicano history, attracted his attention. However, he started to read after he stole an attendant’s university textbooks. After he learned how to read and write, he found that he can learn about the world through reading and express his emotions and feelings through writing.
    There is an important scene in the selection. That is the narrator was arrested on suspicion of murder because he refused to explain a deep cut on his forearm and quickly sent to the holding facility. In the dormitory, he found some prisoners were reading. “The language of poetry was the magic that could liberate me from myself, transform me into another person, transport me to places far away.” This scene and golden line show us the narrator was treated unfairly. He might feel angry, but he can’t express it. When he heard the prisoners read poetries, he felt the liberation and freedom.
    I think this excerpt can connect with another excerpt, “Discovering Books”. Both of the authors were treated unfairly. Both of them didn’t learn to read and write on a traditional way. Finally, reading and writing changed their lives.

  11. Muhammad Sami

    Jimmy Santigo Baca Briefly described himself. How he put all struggles and efforts together to learn writing and reading at most terrible place jail.Despite he was high school dropped student and jailed for twenty five years.Baca Convey his experiences ,hardship ,tough time but never felt inferiority that my learning time has gone and over. Very Inspirational

  12. Hui Ling

    “Coming into Language” was excerpted from Doing Time: Twenty-Five Years of Prison Writing. It was written by Jimmy Santiago Baca. In this story, Baca described himself how to learn to read and write in the prison. When he was a teenage, he was unable to read, and unable to express himself. When he was not enough 18, he was arrested on suspicion of murder. He refused to explain what had happened. His inarticulateness often made him in jeopardy. He said, “Most of my life I felt like a target in the crosshairs of a hunter’s rifle.” Baca had struggled with his difficult life. When he was in prison, he realized reading could help him survive. He asked his sister to bring a grammar book to him. Unfortunately, His sister was unable to do it. Later he finally had a chance to get a grammar book that was from a philanthropist. He had done hard work to learn it. After he learned grammar, he started writing journal everyday. Then, he wrote poems and letters. He described his feeling of writing, “Each word steamed with the hot lava juiced of my primordial making, and I crawled out of stanzas dripping with birth-blood, reborn and reborn and freed from the chaos of my life.” In the prison, reading and writing were not easy. He had exchanged his poems and letters for novels, pencils and writing tablets. In order to create a quiet learning environment for his own, he refused to share a cell with others. This action’s result was that he got very sick, and his tongue couldn’t move, and became more and more sluggish.
    Baca was not the only one who had difficult learning situation. There was an other excerpt, “Discovering books”. This story’s author, Richard Wright narrated himself how to overcome the rule that when African Americans were forbidden to borrow books from libraries. He tried his best and took risks to borrow books. Both Baca and Wright had different difficult environments of learning and reading, but they defeated them. Reading opened their minds, helped them survive, and improved their lives.

  13. Qianyu

    “Coming into language” is an excerpt from Doing Time: Twenty- Five Years of Prison Writing written by Jimmy Santiago Baca. It narrates the process how the narrator, Baca, got blamed and had to stay in jails innocently for again and again. Occasionally, he stole a book which opened a door to know about the outside world and expressed himself freely.
    One of the most impressive parts is that Baca grabbed a university textbook and hid it until he returned his cell and began to read it. At first, the purpose of this action was protesting to the reality in prison. But gradually, he was absorbed deeply into the book but not just for curious. I think it was the power of reading that made him change. It really helped him realize what the world was and developed his own attitude toward the reality. Without this step, he might not enter the next step that expressed his emotion through prison writing. Baca described these feeling as “Suddenly, through language, through writing, my grief and my joy could be shared with anyone who would listen.” It made an original connection between his past life and his achievement to be a writer in the future, who spoke up for their rights and brought change to their voice.
    This excerpt reminds me of “Learning to Read,” from The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Both these two narrators began to read and write in the prison. Reading opened a new world for them to know more. Through reading and writing, they got inner freedom, disclosed the truth and defended for the disadvantaged in society but not just for themselves.

  14. Diana A Moctezuma

    In “Coming Into Language” from doing time: Twenty-five years of prison writing by Jimmy Santiago Baca. This section is about Baca and his journey that taught him how to read and write. One of the many important events was when he learned how to read. Baca describes his experience as “I was no longer a captive of demons eating away at me…My fist white with rage and grit teeth to silence” (Pg. 53). No longer having to live a life were the minority were stripped of their voice. He was ready to use his new voice that he obtain through literature. Baca used his voice to reveal all of his pain and suffering that his soul carried. Furthermore no longer being suffocated by silence he yelled louder than ever before.

  15. Troy M. Annis

    Golden Line:
    1.)”Most of my life I felt like a target in the crosshairs of a hunter’s rifle.”-page 50, paragraph 2
    2.)”When I had fought before, I never gave it a thought.”-pages 53-54
    1.) Most of the time, I feel like a person going from one fight to the next.
    2.) Every time I get into a fight, I never know what the outcome is until after I end the fight.

  16. eboni barnett

    jimmy Santiago Baca was learning to how to read and write while in jail, he was a high school drop -out at the age of seventeen. I wrote to avenge the betrayals of a lifetime, Purge the Bitterness of injustice. I wrote with a deep groan of doom in my blood, bewildered and dumbstruck. I can Connect to Jimmy Since I have struggled with reading myself.


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