*COLLEEN MCELROY--Metering the distance between words, poet McElroy is featured in the 36th Annual Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry reading at the UW. McElroy's latest book is Travelling Music, a versified approach to travel writing, replete with fine, fine images and as engrossing as any physical trip. Kane Hall 130 (Roethke Auditorium), UW Campus, 543-2690, 8 pm, free.
*JOHN ZERZAN--Zerzan's work courts controversy--from his sympathies with the Unabomber to his critiques of "civilization," he leads intelligence over the fringe line. Author of sometimes college textbook Future Primitive, his newest book is Against Civilization: Readings and Reflamesections. He visits tonight for a discussion/lecture. Left Bank Books, 92 Pike St, 622-0195, 8 pm, free.
HARRYETTE MULLEN, JOSEPH DONAHUE--The venerable Subtext Reading Series presents two poets who kick the structure out of poetry. Mullen, author of the collections Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge, has also contributed critical work on race in literature. Donahue's works include Terra Lucida, World Well Broken, and Before Creation & Monitions of the Approach. Both teach at the university level. Speakeasy Cafe, 2304 Second Ave, 340-0180, 7:30 pm, $5.
*PAMELA MOORE DIONNE, REBECCA MEREDITH, KELLI RUSSELL AGODON, KATHRYN OWEN--Winners of the Jack Straw Productions writing awards, which recognize talented up-and-coming local writers, read from their work. Admission fee includes a commemorative chapbook. This is sure to be an eclectic and interesting group. Jack Straw Productions, 4261 Roosevelt Way NE, 634-0919, 8 pm, $5.
DIANNE HIGHBRIDGE--A series of vignettes places ex-patriots in Tokyo, in search of beauty and meaning, and finding love hotels, shopping, and teaching. Highbridge writes elegantly, a lacey story of international interaction. Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way NE, 366-3333, 1 pm, free.
*FREDERICK BUSCH--Busch clears space for a meditation on violence, prejudice, and the shadow beneath the veil in The Night Inspector, his newest novel. A Civil War sniper who lost his face in an explosion, Busch's narrator strides through dignified prose, encountering soulful characters, including the specter of Herman Melville. Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 7:30 pm, free.
*YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA--Set with solid and complex images, 1994 Pulitzer Prize-winning Komunyakaa's poetry pulls from his Southern childhood, his tour of the Vietnam War, and his love of jazz and blues music. His newest collection, Thieves of Paradise, especially attempts to order the chaos of multitudinous humanity. Komunyakaa is in search of a vision; through this search he describes intensely affecting imagery such as a girl burning, or scenes from saxophonist Charlie Parker's life. He reads here as part of the UW Watermark reading series. Kane Hall 220, UW Campus, 543-2690, 7 pm, $5.
*WORLD'S WORST POETRY--Sean Bentley hosts this celebration of imperfection, inaugurated by Nelson Bentley in 1971. Bad verse by poets such as Shakespeare will be featured. Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, 322-7030, 7:30 pm, $5.
ELIOT KATZ--Poet and housing advocate Katz stirs up New Jersey poetics. Endorsed by Allen Ginsberg, he pens passionate, "oracular" verse in his newest collection, Unlocking the Exits. "Language blooms from him." (Alicia Ostriker) Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 7:30 pm, free.
ERIN WIDMAN--Widman, cramped in her sleeping bag while camping, devised creative Yoga positions pre- sented here with color photos, in Sleeping Bag Yoga. University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE, 634-3400, 2 pm, free.
RON JUDD--Camping! Washington leads you to all the great campgrounds; Seattle Times outdoor editor Judd describes and rates each. University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE, 634-3400, 3:30 pm, free.
*JAN CLAUSEN--Clausen, who declared her lesbianism at age 24 and over a decade later fell in love with a man, offers a memoir full of questions in Apples and Oranges: My Journey Through Sexual Identity. "My experience has made me acutely aware of the ways in which, in a modern urban setting, erotic inclinations intertwine with culture," she writes, and "I monitor my dreams and sexual fantasies, hoping to reassure myself that I haven't really 'gone straight.'" Poet, novelist, and critic, Clausen offers rue, insight, and careful writing. Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 7:30 pm, free.
CAMRYN MANHEIM--TV star Manheim's memoir is a declaration: Wake Up, I'm Fat; she takes no guff from mainstream attitudes towards weight. Kane Hall 120, UW Campus, 634-3400, 7 pm, free.
*TRACY KIDDER--Pulitzer Prize-winner Kidder puts Northampton, Massachusetts under the microscope, setting his precise and frequently beautiful prose in pursuit of the underlying belly of a "picture-postcard town." The result is Home Town, a non-fiction study that reads like a novel, containing a large and complex cast of characters. Kane Hall 120, UW Campus, 634-3400, 7 pm, free.
STEVEN SAYLOR--Historical fiction writer Saylor reads from his newest popular novel, Rubicon, set in 49 B.C. Described as "gripping" by Booklist, Rubicon delineates Rome on the verge of war. Saylor's smart about his history. Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 12:30 pm, free.
*A. M. HOMES--Homes, executor of the blood-red interior, both domestic and psychological, reads from her newest novel, Music for Torching, in which a husband and wife nastily nip away at the edges of their suburban existence. "People will be talking about this one," declares Kirkus Reviews. Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 7:30 pm, free.
*ANJU REEJSHING, MICHAEL CHICK, JAMIE HOOK, TRACI VOGEL--Local writers in the flamesush of early spring explore the theme of "Mating Rituals" in this Rendezvous Reading series celebration. Reejshing, author of a collection of short stories titled Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Pressure, headlines. Rendezvous Tavern, 2320 Second Ave, 441-5823, 7:30 pm, free.
LINDA GREENLAW--Featured in Sebastian Younger's The Perfect Storm, commercial fishing boat captain Greenlaw tells her own tale in The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain's Journey. Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way NE, 366-3333, 7 pm, free.
JOEL COHEN--Cohen addresses the salient question: How Many People Can the Earth Support? He visits Seattle to address the World Affairs Council; bring your global population questions. University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE, 634-3400, 5 pm, free.
*SHERMAN ALEXIE--Poet, filmmaker, fist fighter: Alexie's combination of humor and bad-ass have won him a following in Seattle and elsewhere. He reads here from new work. Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way NE, 366-3333, 7 pm, free.
*JIM SCHUMOCK--Lorrie Moore, Robert Stone, Paul Theroux, Carol Shields, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Carolyn Kizer, and more inhabit Schumock's collection of radio interviews, Story Story Story: Conversations with American Authors. Elliott Bay, 101 S Main, 624-6600, 7:30 pm, free.
Note to regularly programmed open mics: The Stranger will list events only if we receive an announcement--regular listings will be dropped unless we are notified that the events are in fact ongoing.
665--Words and music add up in this evening venue, tonight presenting Open Mic O'Rama. Four Angels, 1400 14th Ave (at Union), 689-8661, 7:30 pm, free.
THE PEARL--Turn irritation into beauty: bring fiction, poetry, film or drama. Every first Thursday celebrates Dead Poets. The Pearl, 4215 University Way NE, 547-3326, 8 pm, free.
WORD ANARCHY--Mark Bruback hosts a free-for-all literary open mic. Left Bank Books, 92 Pike St & First Ave, 622-0195, 8 pm, free.
RED SKY POETRY THEATER--Continuing its 18th season of readings, spotlighting local writers plus an open mic. Tonight's featured reader is R. D. Shadowbyrd. Globe Cafe, 1531 14th (at Pine), 633-5647, 7 pm, free.
LIVINGROOM--Every Monday about this time, people read and rant and play music. Tonight, make room for Paul Rucker. Habitat Espresso, 222 Broadway E, 689-8661, 7:30 pm, free.
HOMELAND--The homiest of open mikes, tonight featuring Whitman McGowan, along with espresso chocolate chip cookies. Globe Cafe, 1531 14th Ave (at Pine), 324-8815, 7:30 pm, free.
STAGE FRIGHT--Bring your humanity; an audience of 14-24-year-olds awaits. Free pre-reading workshop starts at 5:30. Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, 322-7030, 7 pm, free.