PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University will present poet Jimmy Santiago Baca on Tuesday, March 2, as the keynote speaker for Semana de la Raza 2004, Chicana/o Latina/o Awareness Week.

The free event will be at 7 p.m. in the Samuel H. Smith Center for Undergraduate Education, Room 203. Copies of Baca’s soon-to-be released books, “The Importance of a Piece of Paper” and “Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande,” will be available for purchase. A book signing will follow.

Abandoned by his parents at the age of two, Baca lived with one of his grandparents for a number of years before being placed in an orphanage. He wound up living on the streets, and at the age of 21 was convicted of drug possession and incarcerated.

He served six years in prison, four of them isolation. In order to survive, Baca taught himself to read and write and began to compose poetry. He earned a bachelor’s degree (1984) and a doctorate in English literature (2003), both from the University of New Mexico.

His awards and honors include the Wallace Stevens Chair at Yale, the National Endowment Poetry Award, Vogelstein Foundation Award, National Hispanic Heritage Award, Berkeley Regents Award, Pushcart Prize, Southwest Book Award, American Book Award and the International Prize.

For more information on Baca, visit his Web site at www.jimmysantiagobaca.com.

A poetry contest will follow the event. For more information, contact Miguel Márquez at marqueztm02@yahoo.com. For more information on Semana de la Raza 2004, contact the Chicana/o Latina/o Student Center at (509) 335-2617.