-THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT for the Humanities has awarded "The Book Group: Exploring Literature in Company" a $192,027 grant to expand its reading and discussion project.

Helen A. Cox heads up the operation. The "Group" is sponsored here by the Utah Library Association and has had impressive success getting Utah residents to read and discuss worthy literature.Programs have been conducted in the Roosevelt Library, Weber County Library, the Tenth East Senior Citizens Center and other locales.

The program recently won an award from the Utah Endowment for the Humanities for a series on "The Contemporary Faces of War: Vietnam and the Nuclear Threat."

For information call 466-5688.

-YOU CAN'T BUY Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" in Iran. But you can buy a Harlequin romance.

Yes, even the veil of Islamic theocracy has been penetrated by this dart of Western culture. Harlequin novels just about cover the world - they're available in 19 languages and 100 countries.

But let the statistics provide a backdrop: 204 million Harlequins were sold in 1987 alone; 2 billion worldwide since 1949. Six Harlequins are sold every second; 60 new titles are published a month under 12 labels, bearing both the Harlequin and Silhouette imprints; and 600 Harlequin authors are duly hitting computer or typewriter keys around the world.

-THE SPARROWGRASS POETRY FORUM is offering a $500 first prize in a poetry competition. Thirty-four other awards will be given.

Send one poem of 20 lines or less to Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum Inc., Dept. E., 203 Diamond St., Sisterville, W.Va. 26175. Deadline is May 31. Winners will be announced at the end of July.

-DIANA PARKER AND BARRY SCHOLL of the University of Utah Creative Writing Program will be reading at the Waking Owl Bookstore, 208 S. 13th East, at 7 p.m. April 20. The reading is free and open to the public. Call 582-7323 for details.