City Week

Words in Art Form

Visiting Feminist and Anti-War Poet to Read Work
7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24.
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
545 S. Fifth Ave.

Poet Alice Notley will grace the University of Arizona Poetry Center's Visiting Poets and Writers Reading Series with her feminist and anti-war works.

When selecting poets and writers for its series, the Poetry Center attempts to show a range of poetry and cultural diversity, as well as people whose work exhibits all different opinions and writing styles, says events coordinator Renee Angle.

"People who attend the reading can expect to be thoughtfully engaged," says Angle. "It's not mindless entertainment."

Angle says that Notley approaches the themes of feminism and war through an artistic perspective and is deeply engaged in the letters of the alphabet. This will be Notley's first time participating in the Poetry Center's series.

"We are really excited to have her here," says Angle. "Especially because she's from Bisbee; it will be like a homecoming of sorts."

Notley has been a poet since 1970 and was related with the second generation of the New York School, according to the UA Poetry Center. Notley has also authored more than 20 books of poetry--that's a lot of verses!

Angle says that she anticipates Notley to focus on at least one of her two latest books, Alma, or The Dead Women and Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2005. Grave of Light is the poet's collection of her best work, says Angle, who suspects that reading this book will enable Notley to reflect on her body of work as a poet.

This full-time poet and visual artist will be showcasing her work to the public, and no registration is required. There is a $5 cover charge, $3 for students. --K.H.

Natural Rx

Yoga to Beat the Blues DVD Release Party
7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 23
Yoga Flow
3131 N. Cherry Ave.

Who wants to be depressed? Nobody. But who wants to take anti-depressants for the rest of their life? Nobody! Well, there's another, much healthier way to defeat depression--and it doesn't have a single negative side effect. It's yoga.

According to author and yoga teacher Amy Weintraub, yoga can help dissolve blocks in the brain and body that cause negative states of mind. In fact, there's scientific evidence that practicing yoga decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol and provides stimulation of the vagus nerve, a known treatment for depression. At the same time, yogic breathing raises levels of the "feel-good" hormones oxytocin and prolactin.

Weintraub started using yoga against her own depression in 1989, and now, not only has she gotten off anti-depressants, but she's authored the successful book Yoga for Depression and has been leading personal-healing retreats all over the country. She even conducts continuing education trainings for psychologists--which means she's gone from being treated by therapists to teaching them how to treat others.

"One of the reasons the yogis believe we feel depressed is that we feel constricted and isolated," Weintraub says. "Yoga gives us a felt sense of connection, little exercises that can focus the mind and clear the space. The other way yoga helps is that it develops an observing mind. ... If you pay attention to the breath and body, you can observe your mood and realize that you aren't your mood."

Weintraub will be present at a party to celebrate the release of her new DVD, LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues, this Friday. There will be a DVD screening, as well as African drumming and dancing with the Dambe Project, a raffle and some yogic breathing and stretching exercises. The party is free, but you'll have to take your shoes off. --A.M.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

The Road to Guantanamo
7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 26
UA Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Auditorium
1130 N. Mountain Ave.

Back in 2001, four young Pakistani Britons from Tipton, England, traveled to Pakistan for a wedding. While they were in the area, they decided to stop in Afghanistan to see what it looked like after Sept. 11. But amidst the wartime chaos, three out of the four friends were suspected of Taliban activities and captured by Northern Alliance fighters, who handed them over to American forces to be transported to the Guantanamo Bay prison camps. They were detained there as "enemy combatants" for three years.

While in Guantanamo, "the Tipton three"--Ruhal Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul--were subjected to the hardships experienced by many accused terrorists. They underwent relentless interrogation and torture, including beatings, sleep deprivation, drug injection, sexual humiliation and body-cavity searches. According to the BBC, Iqbal was told by one American soldier: "You killed my family in the towers, and now it's time to get you back." An officer told Rasul that he would be held in Guantanamo for life.

In March 2004, the three were released without charge and repatriated to England.

These former inmates have told their story in the acclaimed docu-drama The Road to Guantanamo, which includes news footage, interviews with all three men and a detailed account of their experience. In addition, there are scenes depicting beatings and the use of torture techniques such as "stress positions."

The torture scenes were toned down but it's still very affecting stuff.

"This film is important for everyone to see, because it shows how the U.S. treats prisoners all over the world," says activist Mary Jo Ghory of Voices of Opposition, a group that will show the movie this Monday. "This behind-the-scenes look at imprisonment and torture raises questions about conditions in all U.S. prisons, at home and abroad."

The screening is free. --A.M.

Creating Cuddly Creatures

Free Teddy Bear-Making Class
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24
Mostly Bears
2309 E. Broadway Blvd.

Have you ever wondered how to create a teddy bear from scratch with your own two hands? I'm not talking about the ones from Build-a-Bear where you simply stuff a plush outline of a bear and, poof, you have a teddy bear. I'm talking about the real deal--where you cut the fabric outline, sew on the eyes and put in the joints.

Now that I may have you interested, don't fret, because you can craft your very own cuddly creature by hand in a free teddy bear-making class with professional teddy bear artist Mary Ann Neisz.

Trish Stoll of Mostly Bears says that people who attend the bear-making class are pretty involved with the process, and by the time they have finished, they have made a collector's item. No experience is necessary to attend a bear-making class, and the necessary craft supplies can be purchased at Mostly Bears.

"It's not like when you go to the mall, and they stuff a bear for you," says Stoll.

Teddy bear expert Mary Ann Neisz is very talented and has been crafting bears for more than a decade, says Stoll. Neisz also holds free bear-making classes every Wednesday.

Mostly Bears carries collector and handmade bears, as well as bear-making supplies. They also carry Steiff bears, which are collectors' bears from Germany, says Stoll.

"It's really an amazing world," Stoll says of teddy bears. "It's out there; you just don't know about it."

Anyone can drop in at Mostly Bears on Saturday or every Wednesday to make a bear from scratch, or just see what the fun process is all about. A small starter bear typically ranges between $30 and $50, and the teddy bear takes at least eight hours to make. --K.H.