Patti Smith helped kick-start punk in the '70s with the seminal albums Easter and Horses, but the music's revivalist fervor and Smith's distinctive voice, alternately impassioned and sorrow-shot, were only half the appeal. Smith is a poet whose way with words extends beyond a widely revered musical canon to three books of poetry, and most recently, Patti Smith Complete, a journal illustrated with over 150 photos. Smith's reading, 4 p.m. Sunday on the main stage, is one of the highlights at the weekendlong San Francisco Bay Area Book Festival, which promises celebrities and the occasional surprise among the 200 writers reading, discussing, and signing their work. Rock 'n' roll gets additional representation from Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick, who reads from her memoir Someone to Love? 11 a.m. Sunday on the main stage. Brady mom and cooking oil pitchwoman Florence Henderson, the longtime host of the Nashville Network's Country Kitchen show, is an author as well; she'll discuss Florence Henderson's Shortcut Cooking 1 p.m. Saturday in the MFK Fisher Kitchen, a room devoted exclusively to cookbooks. How Stella Got Her Groove Back author Terry McMillan, former congressional Rep. Pat Schroeder, Memoirs of a Geisha novelist Arthur Golden, and the ubiquitous Jay McInerney are among the other big-name festival participants. In addition to readings, the fest offers exhibitors, performances, and panel discussions for emerging writers, like "How to Get Published" and, subsequently, "How to Promote Your Book." It all begins at 10 a.m. (also Sunday) at the Concourse Exhibition Center, Eighth Street & Brannan, S.F. Admission is free-$3; call 908-2833.
-- Heather Wisner