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Concerts, performances lead up to Great American Think Off

Submitted photo The band Zeitgest will perform on Friday, June 10 at the New York Mills School Auditorium.

Before some great minds debate the question 'Does Poetry Matter?' at the Great American Think Off on Saturday, June 11, the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center has scheduled several musical performances and other events.

At 8 p.m. on Friday, June 10, Kevin Kling and Zeitgeist will perform at the NY Mills School Auditorium.

Zeitgeist is made up of percussionist Heather Barringer, percussionist Patti Cudd, woodwind artist Pat O'keefe and pianist Shannon Wettstein. Kling and Zeitgeist will give a performance of "For the Birds," a new chamber composition.

The composition highlights local new music champions Zeitgeist with poetry by humorist, writer and narrator Kling, music by composer Victor Zupanc of the Children's Theater Company and direction by Ben Krywosz of Nautilus Music Theater.

At 2 p.m. on Saturday, Kent Scheer will present his new project for arts in the region. The project, entitled "A Declaration of Independence," will be held at the cultural center. There is no charge for admission.

At 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Ed Bok Lee, a Minnesota poet and former artist-in-residence at the cultural center, will give a poetry reading and performance at the center. There is no charge for admission for Lee's performance.

Lee has shared his work in journals, anthologies and on stages across North America, Europe and Asia, as well as on public radio and MTV. His first collection, Real Karaoke People, was the winner of a Many Voices Prize, an Asian American Literary Award (Members' Choice), and a PEN/Open Book Award.

His second book of poems, Whorled, will be published by Coffee House Press later this fall.

Finally, at 7 p.m. is the much-anticipated Think Off debate. A reception for finalists and attendees of the debate will be held at the cultural center following the debate.