Where I Go: Growing up Under the Rim

Like Any Proper Southern California Basketball Story, Mine Begins With Magic Johnson

Like any proper Southern California basketball story, this one starts with Magic Johnson.

It’s 1986, and I’m 11 years old, living on the north side of Long Beach. My TV has two dials and two telescoping antennas. I randomly turn on Channel 9, where a Los Angeles Lakers game is playing (back when games could be seen for free). I watch as Magic comes down on a fast break in Inglewood, looks straight southeast at me in Long Beach, and then throws a no-look pass to James Worthy streaking down …

A Poem That Would Not Let Me Go | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

A Poem That Would Not Let Me Go

When I Found Multiple Truths in the Work of 18th-Century Poet Phillis Wheatley, She Became Some Kind of Kin

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I do not remember how old I was when my grandmother showed me Phillis Wheatley’s poetry. Ten, maybe 11? Young enough that my hands were open to everything she put …

Where I Go: Peñasquitos Gardens | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Where I Go: Penasquitos Gardens

Traversing the Gulf Back to a San Diego Apartment

I haven’t brought my wife or son to see where I mostly grew up. I keep meaning to. But even though it’s less than a mile from my father’s condo …

Where I Go: Meeps Vintage | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Where I Go: Meeps Vintage

Finding Liberation in a D.C. Clothing Shop

Washington, D.C., is a beautiful, tidy town. For the better part of my years there, I was mostly very sad.

It was not a city I thought I’d first move to …

Jai Hamid Bashir Wins Zócalo’s Ninth Annual Poetry Prize | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

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 …

A Native Hawaiian Returns Home

Thirty Years After My Family Left for Prosperity in California, I Moved Back to the Islands I Thought I Knew

The land sparkled like glitter. It was 1961 and my mother let my brothers and me take turns sitting by the airplane window, but I was lucky enough to commandeer …