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POETIC SOUL: The UA Poetry Center celebrates its 40th anniversary with former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass.

He's the author of several poetry books, including Field Guide, Praise, Human Wishes and Sun Under Wood. He also helped translate the works of Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz. A MacArthur Fellowship winner, Hass teaches English at UC Berkely.

For its part, the charming little poetry center has been around since 1960, when it was founded by poet, novelist and editor Ruth Stephan to "maintain and cherish the spirit of poetry." Today it houses one of the country's finest archives, with more than 37,000 items including books, periodicals, audio and video recordings. It also hosts an ongoing reading series featuring top talents such as Hass.

The free event is at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 17 in St. Philip's in the Hills Church, 4400 N. Campbell Ave. For information, call 626-3765.

CONTRA-DICTION: Learning to dance is like learning to jabber: You just put one foot in front of another, and pretty soon you're flappin' with the best of them.

That's exactly the point, according to the Tucson Friends of Traditional Music. As proof, they continue dishing up their Saturday night contra dancing extravaganzas.

Contra is a social dance, similar to square dancing, which emphasizes group participation. This week's dancing will be to the ornery sounds of the Privy Tippers, with calling by Becky Nankivell.

The dance runs from 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday, November 18 in the Armory Park Recreation Center, 220 S. Fifth Ave. Donations are suggested. For information, call 293-3783.

BEE SCENE: Learn everything you wanted to know about busy little pollinators with Sonoran Desert BEE-stiary, a lecture hosted by Tohono Chul Park.

When it comes to bee diversity, the Sonoran Desert is in a league of its own. And when it comes to taking care of business, it's the native brands--rather than the European bees we typically think of--that are really the top pollinators for backyard flowers, vegetable gardens and fruit trees.

That's just the beginning. Pollination biologist Stephen Buchmann of The Bee Works will introduce you to some of the more than 1,000 species found in these parts.

The lecture is at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 16 in the Tohono Chul Park Wilson Room, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte. Admission is $4, and $2 for park members. Call 742-6455 for reservations.

VISIONARY STROLL: Proving there's far more to downtown than noisy bus stations, pierced noses and wiener stands, the Tucson Arts District Partnership offers yet another Thursday Night Art Walk, formulated to "take in the rich diversity of the Tucson art scene."

The trek uncovers artistic styles including contemporary, regional, Native American and folk, with visits to galleries and even peeks behind the creative curtain in working studios. Also noted are groovy urban eateries and retailers, all revealing Tucson's eclectic soul to be anything but mall-bound.

This week's tour begins at 5 p.m. Thursday, November 16 in the Tucson Arts District Partnership Phantom Gallery, 4 E. Congress St. Walking shoes are recommended. Call 624-9977 for information.

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