Jai Hamid Bashir Wins Zócalo’s Ninth Annual Poetry Prize

In 'Little Bones,' a Girl Considers a Utah Sunset, Intoxicated on 'Untold Plans for Eternity'

Since 2012, the Zócalo Public Square Poetry Prize has been awarded annually to the U.S. poem that best evokes a connection to place. This year, talking about “place”—a concept always open to interpretation—feels particularly poignant as people around the world must now consider its physical constraints and vast virtual possibilities as many of us stay home, in fixed spaces, to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The submissions for 2020 (which came from as far away as Doha, Qatar) dove deep into the meaning of place to explore literal, fictional, and metaphorical …

Do Californians Love Their Houses Too Much?

A Fourth-Generation Homeowner Reconsiders the California Dream

No house on earth means more to me than my paternal grandparents’ small blue home near the bottom of a windswept hill in the Bay Area city of San Mateo.

I’ve …

Can Criminals Be Genetically Determined?

Just Five Percent of Families Commit Half of All U.S. Crimes. Is It Bad Genes, Bad Family Values, or Both?

When veteran New York Times reporter Fox Butterfield first met the Bogle family, he believed that nurture mattered more than nature in influencing people to commit violent crimes.

But how, …

The Modesto Girls are a Family Miracle

How Five Sisters (and Their Brothers) Survived Childhood and Stuck Together in Stanislaus County

California changes too fast. The new so quickly replaces the old. People come and go with a blur. I often feel like you can’t count on anything staying here anymore.

But …

What Kind of an American Am I?

From Witches to Baptist Ministers to Native Americans, My Family Heritage Holds Many Stories. But I'm Not Sure Which Ones Are Mine.

I am American. That much I know—but my life’s experience has never taken me beyond that in any way, up until this point. While many Americans embrace their ancestry …

How Our Grandmothers Disappeared Into History

A Historian Turned Novelist Ponders the Absence of Women From America's Historical Archives

I recently Googled my grandmother’s name. I wanted to know the date she died, so I could better place a childhood memory. In the 21st century, embarrassingly, the internet has …