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Final Four selected for 2011 Great American Think-Off

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After reading and discussing hundreds of essays submitted on this year's question, the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center has selected four final essays and essayists. These four writers will come to New York Mills on Saturday, June 11 for the live, face-to-face debate of this year's question, "Does poetry matter?" Two of the finalists are from Minnesota, one is from Michigan, and one is from New York City.

Arguing that no, poetry does not matter, are Robert Levine and Mahmood Tabadoor, from New York City and Michigan, respectively.

Bob Levine just turned 20 years old "celsius." He lives in both New York City and Roxbury, Conn., in the foothills of the beautiful Berkshire Mountains. When he is not creating companies, the latest being, an online government e-commerce company that allows you to make court filings and pay traffic citations over the internet, he most enjoys being with family and friends, accompanied by good conversation, good wine and lots of laughter.

Mahmood Tabadoor obtained his graduate degrees in engineering from the University of Michigan and Virginia Tech. Since graduation, he has worked in telecommunications, automotive and now product safety. He lives with his wife and two kids in Rochester, Mich. His wife is on Facebook, his kids use an iPad, but he still likes to read books the old fashioned way.

Doug Wilhide is a writer who lives in Minneapolis and he persuades that yes, poetry does matter. He holds degrees in English from Miami University (Ohio) and the University of Iowa. He worked as a copywriter and creative director for several ad agencies and taught graduate students at the University of St. Thomas. A few years ago he set up Trolley Car Press, which has published two books of local poetry. He is the Poet Laureate of Linden Hills and the poetry editor for the Southwest Journal.

Marsh Muirhead is a poet and writer, dentist and flight instructor, living on the banks of the Mississippi River near Bemidji with his retriever, Scout. He too argues that poetry does matter. His poems and stories have been published in The Southeast Review, New Mexico Poetry Review, Minnetonka Review, Rattle, Modern Haiku and elsewhere. He is a contributor to the Canadian poetry website How Pedestrian and is the author of "Key West Explained - a guide for the traveler."

Tickets to this year's debate may be purchased by calling (218) 385-3339.