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A Look Back at LDM 2009

It shocked us, when we added it up. In 2009 we did 40 Literary Death Matches around the world. 40! For perspective, that's almost twice as many as we did between our March 2006 debut in NYC (before a confused and curious crowd) and December 2008. So, after averaging eight a year, we quintupled (is that the right word for 5x) our yearly average. Insane. 

It's strange to watch something you've created explode, to watch the reins go taut while the thing steers itself into wild, new directions and new cities. The highlights this year have been endless, but to name a few: Abraham Smith gob-smacking a packed house in NYC; Ryan Boudinot reading with a bag on his head in Seattle; the fantastic judging of comedian Todd Barry and tastemaker Tony Arcabascio; and LDM London's debut finale that went down to the wire. And then there was Jessy Randall's mother pinch-hitting in a hula hoop-off at a wild Denver, Ep. 2. But that's been the joy, on our end, of doing a Literary Death Match. There's at least one special moment at each one, something that is embedded in memory.  

Our aim in 2010: to make the Literary Death Match a consistent affair in Chicago and London (the way it is in San Francisco and New York City), to expand it to all kinds of new cities, like Dublin, New Orleans, Iowa City, Edinburgh, Tel Aviv, and return it to all kinds, too: Austin, Denver, LA, Portland, Boston (and maybe, just maybe, Beijing). 

Now it's time to hand out thanks, and hope we don't miss someone: to all the writers who had the courage and literary might to read and be judged; to all the judges who had the levity, brains and verve to make judging so fun; to all the people showed up and made the event worth doing time and again (x40); to Dane Atkinson of Squarespace who made this site possible; to Sky Hornig for making LDM San Francisco a consistent and wonderful reality; to David Booth and his SF-based couch, for countless uses; to James J. Williams III for always being there no matter how infuriating I am; to Jenny Niven who made us believe the LDM could work outside of US borders; to Jody Reale for making Denver a LDM destination; to Alana Conner who I never seem to give enough credit to for her hilarity and hard work; to Josh Damon Williams who seriously knows his way around a social networking problem; to Heather Sharfeddin and James Bernard Frost for luring the LDM to Portland, a city where it belongs; to London's Suzanne Azzopardi for letting me abuse her inbox; to Emma Archer for being such a significant source of support; to Jane Ganahl and Jack Boulware for letting the LDM star at Litquake; to Sabrina Howells for turning the LA idea into a fantastic reality; to PR mistress Kelly Helder who put the LDM on the media map, and then expanded that by bringing it to Raleigh; to Ben Blum who seriously busted his ass to make Seattle work; to Kevin Dolgin for surviving criticism and saving me from my languageless abyss during Paris, Ep. 1; to Badaude and Xander Cansell for a jolly good Oxford success; to Erin Hosier who rocked Austin's debut and co-hosts with aplomb; to Matt Herlihy and his so comfy Chicago-based pull-out couchbedthing; to all the interns who blossomed into assistant editors right before my eyes by being so committed to what we were doing; to all the people in various cities that said "Do the LDM here!"; to Paul Constant and Evan Karp for criticism; to every journalist who said nice things about us.  And of course to my mom, because she's just a hilarious joy. 

It'd be nonsense to finish with: "We're just getting warmed up!" Because we're definitely warmed-up. But we do hope that you'll follow us in the new year (even if just on Twitter: @litdeathmatch). We have lots of wild ideas, and we hope you'll join us on the ride — all parts bumpy and smoothe. 


Todd Zuniga

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