Mary Jo Salter (pictured), an award-winning poet herself, comes to town Friday on behalf of a national poetry project called "Branching Out: Poetry for the 21st Century," which aims to visit five cities over two years. Salter's lecture, titled "Moore and the Writing Life," will discuss how dead poets are the rock stars of the craft. Salter speaks at Unity Temple on the Plaza (707 West 47th Street) at 7 p.m. Arrive at 6:30 p.m. for a string recital that kicks off the Maple Woods Community College Readers and Writers Conference. Call 816-701-3400, ext. 2401, for information. Jonathan Hill
Bobby Seale's back with a kinder, gentler message about education.
Like George Foreman, another intimidating '60s figure, Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale has remade himself as a grinning griller. His book Barbeque'n With Bobby contains a "Barbeque Bill of Rights," merging his love of marinades with his ongoing campaign for civil liberties. But when Seale speaks at 6:30 p.m. Thursday near Scofield Hall (51st Street and Rockhill Road), where his speech caps a weeklong Tent State University rally, he won't be rattling off recipes. He still advocates "all power to the people," but he eschews the inflammatory rhetoric that marked his earliest orations. Instead, he urges education reform, making him an ideal speaker at an event focused on redirecting military funding so that it goes to schools. Andrew Miller
Goin' to KCK
For a jazz fix, hit the library.
Museum exhibits pay homage to the golden age of Kansas City jazz, but statues and still photographs can only go so far in conjuring one of the most animated periods in American musical history. Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop, a recently published book from Chuck Haddix (see Best Local Writer, page 15) and Frank Driggs, fills the gaps with anecdotes about 18th & Vine's thriving nightlife and illuminating profiles of pivotal figures such as Big Joe Turner and Jimmy Rushing. The Kansas City of the '20s and '30s combined modern Manhattan's 24-hour bustle with the gambling-den seediness of Las Vegas. Haddix re-creates these astonishing scenes at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library (625 Minnesota Avenue, 913-279-2219). Local legend Myra Taylor will be on hand to belt out some of the songs she performed at those storied, long-defunct venues. Miller
Dead or Alive
Hanging with the dead has never been so cool.
In the new film The Corpse Bride, the land of the living is, in a word, dead. The party is in the underworld. By film's end, the dead have infused the living world with color literally and figuratively and animated the humdrum lives of its inhabitants. This dichotomy between the living and the dead is analogous to the Día De Los Muertos, at least as far as one local gallery is concerned. The Mattie Rhodes Art Center and Gallery (915 West 17th Street, 816-471-2521) celebrates with an art exhibit, a street festival, mariachis, circus performers and ongoing workshops, where you'll learn how to construct ofrendas, maracas and calaveras. The festival starts Friday with an opening reception from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and runs through November 19. The street fair and parade start Saturday at 1 p.m. Donations are welcome at both events; there is a nominal fee for the workshops. Ray T. Barker
Have some Bible with your bacon.
We worry about that cursed little building at 520 Southwest Boulevard the one that has housed the failed Café Barcelona, Carmen's on the Boulevard, Don Pepe's and, most recently, Gamal's Euro Bistro. But David Kimball isn't so concerned. The co-owner of DaDa's, the site's latest incarnation, tells us he has big plans, including a weekly gospel brunch that starts Sunday. He says to expect something "a little more high-end, with eggs Benedict and some European pastries" and an actual choir set up at the front of the restaurant. Customers can come as early as 10:30 a.m., but the singers won't begin until around 1 p.m. they can't skip church, after all. Call 816-471-4944. Annie Fischer