While your 2009 calendar is still fresh, start saving the dates for the area's top literary events. A yearlong celebration of the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's birth kicks off in Baltimore next weekend, and there are many other events for book lovers. Here's a sampling:
Poe bicentennial : Start the party at 7 p.m. Saturday at Westminster Hall in Baltimore, where Poe is buried. The event features a tribute by John Astin of The Addams Family, music and a theatrical performance. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. (Similar events will be held at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 18 and Feb. 1 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31).
On Jan. 19, the actual anniversary, visit Westminster Hall to see the 1961 movie The 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.
Information for these and other Poe events: nevermore2009.com or 877-225-8466.
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. Information: baltimorereads.org or 410-752-9281.
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. Information: prattlibrary.org or 410-396-5494.
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. Information: hocopolitso.org or 410-772-4568.
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 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!