While your 2009 calendar is still fresh, starts saving the dates for the area's top literary events. One year-long celebration kicks off next weekend, as Baltimore marks the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's birth, but there are many other events for book lovers. Here's a sampling:

Poe bicentennial: Start the party Saturday at 7 p.m at Westminster Hall in Baltimore, where Poe is buried. The event features a tribute by John Astin of The Addams Family, -- check him out reading The Raven -- music and a theatrical performance. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. (Similar events will be held Jan. 18 at 4:30 p.m., and on the weekend of Jan. 31/Feb. 1).

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On Jan. 19, the actual anniversary, visit Westminster Hall for the 1961 movie Pit and the Pendulum and a performance of The Black Cat. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. It starts at 7 p.m.

Baltimore Reads gala. The adult literacy organization marks its 20th anniversary with a celebration Jan. 24 at the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel. Tickets cost $175 per person or $300 per couple.

Booklovers' Breakfast. James McBride (The Color of Water) and Nikki Giovanni (Love Poems) are featured Feb. 7 at the Enoch Pratt event at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Tickets cost $40; advance registration is required.

Frank McCourt. The author of Angela's Ashes, 'Tis and Teacher Man is the speaker for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society's annual Evening of Irish Music and Poetry on Feb. 20. Tickets cost $35.

Later in the year come some perennial favorites – and they're all free! The CityLit Festival, April 18 at the Enoch Pratt on Cathedral Street, features Junot Diaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao). The Baltimore Book Festival is Sept 25-27 in Mount Vernon Square. And the One Maryland One Book program, sponsored by the Maryland Humanities Council, will have a statewide series of book discussions in the fall.

You'll find many more events in the calendar on Read Street's home page, along with daily updates on book news and reviews. Have a great year of reading!

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