Skip to main content

Zócalo Public Square announces 2022 book and poetry prize winners

Economic and social policy scholar, Georgia poet laureate are this year’s honorees

Portrait of 2022 Zócalo Public Square Book Prize winner Heather McGhee next to the cover of her book ""The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together."
May 18, 2022

Zócalo Public Square, a digital magazine and host of public programs, has announced author Heather McGhee as the winner of the 2022 Zócalo Public Square Book Prize and Chelsea Rathburn as the winner of the 2022 Zócalo Poetry Prize.

Awards will be presented on June 1, in person at the ASU California Center in the historic Herald Examiner Building in downtown Los Angeles, and will stream live online. 

McGhee receives the $10,000 book prize for her acclaimed nonfiction work "The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together." McGhee chronicles the pervasiveness of the “zero-sum paradigm” — the idea that some Americans progress at the expense of others — but also offers stories of communities coming together across lines of race and background. 

McGhee is the former president of the think tank Demos and a scholar of economic and social policy. She currently chairs the board of the online racial justice organization Color of Change.

Rathburn is the poet laureate of Georgia and the author of three poetry collections. She won the Zócalo Poetry Prize for “8 a.m., Ocean Drive,” an original work selected from over 1,000 submissions. Rathburn will receive a $1,000 prize for her poem.

“After presenting our awards in virtual events, we are so excited to throw open the doors to our new home at ASU’s California Center in the historic Herald Examiner in downtown Los Angeles,” said Moira Shourie, executive director of Zócalo Public Square. “We welcome back Angelenos to this beloved event, while continuing to livestream to a broad audience alongside our synchronous chatroom.”

Three additional honorable mention poets will be recognized  for Zócalo’s 2022 Poetry Prize and will receive a $100 award and publication on the Zócalo website.

The event, hosted at the ASU California Center and livestreamed on Zócalo’s YouTube channel, starts at 7 p.m. PDT on June 1. The event will include a pre-recorded poetry reading by Rathburn and a lecture by McGhee, followed by a discussion moderated by LA84 Foundation President and CEO Renata Simril. Screenwriter and philanthropist Tim Disney is the generous sponsor of the 2022 Zócalo Book and Poetry Prizes.

More Law, journalism and politics


A gavel sits on top of a laptop.

ASU Law launches AI focus across multiple degree programs

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University — ranked the nation’s most innovative university since U.S.…

June 11, 2024
People seated at a conference table smiling.

Business journalists continue to earn premium salaries; 70% report salary increases

Business journalists continue to earn an impressive premium over their general-news peers, while demographic data indicate a…

June 04, 2024
A group of students deliberate in a classroom

ASU hosts first student-led Model Constitutional Convention

Imagine a congressional floor debate between varying political parties that not only puts personal attacks aside, but is civil,…

May 30, 2024