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Monica Riese, 12:02pm, Fri. May. 3, 2013

Two events tonight, plus two poetry contests and two awards for Texas Monthly. Man, we thought good things all came in threes ….

• Tonight at BookPeople, author Tom Walker will read from his short story collection Signed Confessions. His affecting collection of antiheroes struggle with forgiveness and remorse, confessions and amends, in this deep, dark volume of haunting memories and narrative. His opening piece, "Blessed Are They That Mourn," unfolds slowly and deliberately, with a conversational tone that makes the ultimate realizations punch the reader in the gut that much harder. Don't miss his appearance in Local Author Night; see BookPeople's site for complete details.

• Also tonight is the Michener Center for Writers graduation reading, featuring the graduating class of 2013: poets Claire Sylvester Smith, Matthew Moore, Chanel Clarke, and Bradley Harrison; screenwriter Chad Nichols; playwrights Kevin Kautzman and Sarah Saltwick; and fiction writers Jeff Bruemmer, Brad Kelley, Monica Macansantos, Greg Marshall, and Mary Miller. Even if you don't go tonight (maybe you've already made plans to be at BookPeople?), get used to seeing those names; we're certain you'll be hearing about all of them and their forthcoming projects in the not-too-distant future.

• In other Michener-related news, did you know that poet Dean Young was recently named the 2014 Texas state poet laureate? Now you know.

• Two other poetry things for your radar: First, there's a thousand bucks on the line for the winner of the Free Poetry Contest, a last-poet-standing kind of deal that welcomes entries 21 lines or shorter. Everyone's eligible, so send your work to Free Poetry Contest, PO Box 3561, Ashland, OR 97520 or enter online at before June 10. Meanwhile, three poets will get to send haikus to Mars as part of the Going to Mars project. For this project, which you can read more about on NPR's site, you have until July 1 – again, all are welcome. Two weeks later, the public will vote on which entries to send skyward.

• The Austin Teen Book Festival has announced its closing speaker: Holly Black, who joins opening speaker Maggie Stiefvater as part of the exciting lineup. Read an interview with Black over on the festival's website, and start gearing up for the event, which takes place Sept. 28 at the Austin Convention Center.

Texas Monthly took home two National Magazine Awards this week – one for Mimi Swartz's "Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Wives" on the state of family planning, and another for Pamela Colloff's two-parter "The Innocent Man," about the Michael Morton case. Congrats to both!

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