- Joe Gross American-Statesman Staff
The Texas Book Festival is Saturday and Sunday at the Capitol and surrounding venues, and most events are free and open to the public. Although director and actor Tom Hanks is the highest-profile name this year — here with a collection of short fiction, “Uncommon Type” — his ticketed event is sold out. Here are five highlights for Saturday (see all our previews and coverage at austin360.com/bookfest):
1. Dan Rather. The broadcast journalism living legend will discuss his new essay collection, “What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism,” with Texas Tribune Editor Evan Smith. Expect a discussion about social media and what it means to be American. (Noon, First Baptist Church)
2. #BlackPoetsSpeakOut: Poetry in the Times of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Black Poets Speak Out looks to inspire poets and fans of same to address injustice. Co-founders Amanda Johnston and Mahogany L. Browne, along with 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner Tyehimba Jess, will read their work and discuss what poetry means in these complicated political times. (2:30 p.m., House chamber)
3. Tillie Walden. Walden, an Austinite, is 21 years old; her first graphic novel, “The End of Summer,” appeared when she was 19. Her newest, the door-stopper “Spinning,” is a memoir about competitive ice skating and sexuality with a command of comics grammar usually found in artists twice her age. See her at the “Catch the YA Buzz!” panel with authors Martin Wilson, Nic Stone and Brandy Colbert (10 a.m., YA HQ at 10th Street and Congress Avenue) and at the “The Space Between” panel with authors Brandy Colbert and Julie Murphy (noon, YA HQ)
4. Nate Blakeslee. If you look up “weirdly underrated dudes in Austin,” there is likely a photo of this cat smiling back at you. Blakeslee, a writer for Texas Monthly and former Texas Observer editor, is the author of “American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West” about a pack of wolves in Yellowstone Park. Stephen Harrigan moderates. (2 p.m. Texas Tent)
5. The Lit Crawls! There are two this year. Authors from the book festival participate in various events at East Austin venues including Resistencia Books, Flat Track Coffee, Stay Gold and Weather Up. Full schedule: texasbookfestival.org/lit-crawl. A second crawl, this one highlighting Latino writers, takes place at venues such as the Mexic-Arte Museum, La Peña, and Micheladas Cafe y Cantina. That schedule is at nochedeletras.org. Both start around 7 p.m.