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Ibeth Ochoa

Professor Alder
English 1A
February 26, 2016
Changed Writing
Writing is a simple act that can change the world and ones self. When you walk
into a library, you are face to face with a variety of writing styles that have impacted
people or the author. We are given books to gain knowledge and provide us with words
that can impact our lives. But writing can be composed of stories, journal entries, poems,
and letters. Author Jimmy S. Baca learned to read and write while serving his time in
prison, which allowed him to improve and explore his writing leading to his book
Singing at the Gates Selected Poems. Mary Pipher author of Writing to Change the
World writes about authors and writers who have done what Baca did, explored one self
deeper and deeper because our writing comes from our being. Baca explores his writing
throughout his poems about love, friendship, and his daily life in imprisonment. He uses
language and tone to have a voice, and so that he may be able to share his experiences
and emotions with the outside world.
Baca wrote the book with intense descriptions and by his daily life behind bars.
He communicates with the world and his readers through his writing. His poems are a
collection of thoughts and dreams, as he dived into a world where writing was the only
thing in his control in a maximum-security prison. His use of language and tone in his
poetry is an expression to communicate his feelings and thoughts. Baca expresses hope,
while serving time in prison. In December Nights Baca writes about hope, how it is

important to have but also explore, which he must of done a lot of as he laid on his bunk.
He allows us to see that even in a scary place where you are faced with hardships and
unfairness, there is hope in such a place. Therefore he continues to write to find his voice
and daily hope.
Every writer has felt the need and desire to tell a story, a memory, and moments
they want to capture on paper and share. Writing can help us see why our stories matter,
and we feel a sense of urgency to tell them (Pipher43). Pihper explains how it is
important to find out voice in our writing because our words reflect who we are. In a
violent location where Baca was in, his words tolled readers who he was and what in his
past made him the person he is today.
Bacas book is an example of what Pipher expresses to be the reason we urge to
write. In a manner of speaking, thats what this collection is about-the salvaged remains
of my life, always one step ahead of the fire that blows through my imagination. I write
from this place of immediate evacuation, from a place where I must leave everything
behind and take only what I can carry and what is most meaningful to me- and that is
narrative, the story, the poem (Baca pg. XV). Baca and Pihper have many connections
through out their books; their motivations and inspirations to write come from also
simply trying to find their voice. So that in there own writing style they may connect with
the world and discover more about themselves as writers.
In Bacas poems he writes about love, freedom, hope, friendship, and his daily life
in imprisonment. As he continued to write he explored further into the world of writing,
writing about love although it was absent in his presence, as well as friendship with
cellmates. Poems defined are a piece of writing that can be joined in by both the nature of

speech and song that nearly always displays a rhythmical form. Bacas poem This Voice
Within Me is an example of his friendships with cellmates. This voice within me waits
in line, and after my anger and laughter go to sleep, it is earliest to awake, and stands in
front like a peasant in a breaded line, or bearded bard at a slum soup kitchen. I open my
eyes on the gray and snowy world, still drowsed in darkness and dreaming, and I see him
down there all alone, and call to him, accompany me, listening to the sounds of waking
life around us, I smile softly at my cellmate (Baca27). Despite our idea or understanding
of what poems are, Baca wrote them in forms where he found himself and his voice
within himself that shed light unto the world. He has allowed the world to see his
character through this poem. As Pihper quoted Duane Elgin in her book The character
of a society is the cumulative result of countless small actions, day in and day out, of
millions of people (Pipher53).
Piphers book is focused on giving advice on writing to change the world. Writing
can expand our mind and also connect us to other people through our stories. Writing to
connect is changed writing, which, like good therapy, creates the conditions that allow
people to be transformed (pipher8). Baca by writing became a person who as he
described in his past was changed, he is now a well-known author and taught in English
classes.
Many writers like Baca write to find themselves and their voice, as expressed by
Pihper who urges writers to write, write, and write, in hopes that we can have a selfdiscovery. Perhaps touch someones heart or changed our own life or that of others. The
simple act of writing down thoughts, dreams, hopes, and conversations allowed Baca to

explore a world of writing and reinvent who he was. Ultimately, connecting him through
his writing to his soul, other writers, and a world of changed writing.