CROSS PLAINS — Hundred of literary fans are converging on Cross Plains this weekend for Robert E. Howard Days, the annual salute to the early 20th century novelist and poet who did most of his work in this Callahan County town.

Howard Days is a joint venture of Project Pride, the Robert E. Howard United Press Association and the Robert E. Howard Foundation.

“This year we’re trying something just a little different by theming Howard Days to ‘The Poetry of Robert E. Howard,’” Bill “Indy” Cavalier said on his Web site, “By way of celebrating the 2009 publication of ‘The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard’ from the REHF Press, we thought focusing on the wonderful poems of REH was a theme certainly worth doing, and long overdue at that.

“We’ve invited Larry D. Thomas, the 2008 Poet Laureate of Texas, to be our guest of honor, and Donald Sidney-Fryer, an outstanding poet and authority on the Weird Tales poets, to be our special guest.”

Cavalier said four of the five panels planned will focus on Ol’ Two-Gun’s poetry, and in addition to Thomas and Sidney-Fryer, a number of REH poetry experts like Frank Coffman and Barbara Barrett will be on hand. Everyone will be invited to participate in reading Howard’s poetry at the second annual Robert E. Howard Poetry Throwdown.

The usual Howard Days activities are still in place: the Robert E. Howard House will be open for tours, and there’ll be walking tours of Cross Plains, bus tours of the surrounding areas, panels, swap meet, postal cancellation, a celebration banquet and silent auction, the REH Foundation (formerly the Cimmerian) Awards, the Barbarian Festival uptown and the Saturday Sunset Barbeque at Caddo Peak Ranch.

“The best part of the weekend, as always, is the fine REH fellowship that happens, where fans meet and talk the days and night away, all right next to the very room where Robert E. Howard wrote over three million words.”

Donations will be accepted at some activities, but the only established charge is the $10 per person registration fee for the tonight banquet’s.

Events will begin with coffee and donuts at 8:30 a.m. today, and activities continue throughout the day and night today and Saturday.

A visit to the Howard gravesite at the Greenleaf Cemetery in Brownwood is not a scheduled activity, but many Howard buffs make the 35-mile drive. The Friends of Greenleaf will host a reception at the Howard gravesite from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and Saturday. Many Howard fans will be staying in Brownwood.

The REH Days documentary done by Goodspeed Productions in 2008 may be ready for showing at the 2009 Howard Days. Information will be forthcoming.