Thursday 8/23

* J. D. McClatchy and Stephen Yenser

The co-editors of James Merrill: Collected Poems read from the collection and give an illustrated lecture on the author, who was rich, handsome, gay, and doomed. Critic Helen Vendler has said the desire for Merrill's writing is about "[knowing] that someone out there is writing down your century, your generation, your language, your life." Presented by Counterbalance Poetry, co-sponsored by the University Bookstore and the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave, 634-3400, 7:30 pm. Tickets required, but free at the University Bookstore.

Robert Crais

A convenience-store heist, a hostage situation, a burned-out negotiator. Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park Town Center, 17171 Bothell Way NE, 366-3333, 7 pm, free.

John Billheimer

In Dismal Mountain, Billheimer's third mystery featuring Owen Allison, the detective is called upon to protect his family's land in West Virginia from developers. A trucker dies, Owen's aunt confesses, and that's just the beginning. Elliott Bay Book Company, 101 S Main St, 5 pm, free; call 624-6600 for details.

* Mark C. Ross

A safari guide's memoir of surviving gorillas, tourists, and Rwandan rebels. See Bio Box. Elliott Bay Book Company, 7:30 pm, free; call 624-6600 for details.

Friday 8/24

Bebe Moore Campbell

Campbell is here to read from her latest novel, What You Owe Me. In her previous works (Brothers and Sisters, Your Blues Ain't Like Mine), she distilled aspects of the black experience--from racism to success--into intelligent and sympathetic, if sometimes soap opera-like, stories. Elliott Bay Book Company 7:30 pm, free; call 624-6600 for details.

Jeff Alt

Alt walked the length of the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail; he'll be setting up camp (for real) and telling stories from his book, A Walk for Sunshine. Ask him about the night he spent with a skunk. Barnes & Noble, University Village, 517-4107, 7 pm, free.

Lenny Wilkins

Signing Unguarded: My Forty Years Surviving in the NBA. Wilkins is an Olympic gold medal winner, nine-time All-Star, and former Coach of the Year. Candid memoir of racism, motivation, and sports metaphors. University Bookstore, 4326 University Way NE, 634-3400, 7 pm, free.

Saturday 8/25

Harry Turtledove

The author reads from American Empire: Blood and Iron. University Bookstore, 2 pm, free.

Margaret Starbird

In case you missed The Mists of Avalon (in which Nurse Hathaway becomes an avatar/goddess of the Camelot-era syncretism of pagan and Christian beliefs), don't miss Starbird's reading from The Tarot Trumps and the Holy Grail: Great Secrets from the Middle Ages. Elliott Bay Book Company, 3 pm, free; call 624-6600 for details.

* Seeurn MacFalls

The Irish American polymath reads from his poems. Elliott Bay Book Company, 7:30 pm, free; call 624-6600 for details.

Sunday 8/26

ReAct Play Reading Series

A staged reading of Christopher Durang's Betty's Vacation. Warning (or, perhaps, enticement): Partial nudity! Elliott Bay Book Company, 1 pm, pay what you can ($5 suggested donation); call 624-6600 for details.

Monday 8/27

* Screenwriters Salon

Staged readings of screenplays by the teenagers who participated in the Experience Art Camp/Artist Apprentice Program. With sincere, intervention-style feedback for the writers from you, the audience, afterward. Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, 7 pm. Free for Cinema Seattle members, $5 for non-members, $2 for students.

Pamela Sackett and Friends

We are honestly not sure what "Emotion Literacy" is, but this is a fundraiser for it. With readings and a monologue performance auction (not sure what that is, either). Elliott Bay Book Company, 7 pm, $10; call 624-6600 for details.

Poetry Pot Luck

This session's books for discussion: Smoke, by Dorianne Laux; and The Street of Clocks, by Thomas Lux. Tonight's show is brought to you by the letters L, U, and X. Elliott Bay Book Company (upstairs), 7 pm, free; call 624-6600 for details.

Tuesday 8/28

Gen Kelsang Jangsem

The latest interpretation of Buddhism for Westerners, Transform Your Life: A Blissful Journey, is by Jangsem's teacher Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Elliott Bay Book Company, 7:30 pm, free.

Wednesday 8/29

Judith Skillman

New poems from a Bellevue poet. Elliott Bay Book Company, 7:30 pm, free; call 624-6600 for details.

Jim Daves, W. Thomas Porter (and other famous sports people)

For the hardcore only: The Glory of Washington: The People and Events that Shaped the Husky Athletic Tradition. University Bookstore, noon, free.

Barbara Robinette Moss

The author will read from and sign Change Me Into Zeus' Daughter. Barnes & Noble, 626 106th Ave NE, (425) 451-8463, 7 pm, free.

Poetry/Spoken Word/Open Mics

East India Trading Company--Mon at 7 pm. Coffee Messiah, 1554 E Olive Way, 208-1188, free.

Homeland--Tues at 7:30 pm. Globe Cafe, 1531 14th Ave, 264-5139, free.

* Re-Birth--Thurs at 7:30 pm. Zodiac Cafe, 605 East Broadway, 720-4502, free.

Seattle Poetry Slam--Wed at 9 pm. Open mike and open slam, with a $25 cash prize. Featured performers: FourWord ForTete (Dave Caserio, Danika Dinsmore, Michael Riccardi, Catherine Wing, and percussionist Matthew Burgess). Sit & Spin, 2219 4th Ave, 441-9484, $4.

Seattle Youth Poetry Slam--Fri at 8 pm. Under-21 poets compete for a $25 prize. With music from Daddy's Girl Productions. Downtown YMCA's Fusion Cafe, 909 Fourth Ave, 382-7899; $5 (performers get in free).

Wit's End--Sun at 7 pm, with Larry Crist, two poets TBA, and open mic. Wit's End Bookstore & Tea Shop, 770 N 34th, 682-1268, free.