May 21, 2009—LDM Boston Ep. 1 at The Paradise Lounge was a mess of poor lighting, corrupted microphone, and a battle of the guitar-banging bands a doorway away. And yet. Amongst the whirl of near-disaster, it proved that prettily written prose, when properly performed, is rife with absolute might, and we count the Beantown debut, ultimately, as a success. The wild night finished with Stuff Boston's Jeannie Greeley out-Lit-Tea-Partying co-finalist Steve Almond en route to Massachusetts' first-ever LDM crown.
The night began under dim lighting, as all-star judges Eve Bridburg (Grub Street founder), Tom Perrotta (Opium8's 500-Word Contest judge and author of The Abstinence Teacher and Election) and Christopher Monks (The Game Guide to Your Life), huddled in near-dark behind first-rounders Jane Roper (Memoirious) and Steve Almond (Grub Street). Jane led off with a sharply read and written tale, as guitars clanged and warbled in the distance, turning pages with one hand before a captivated crowd. Next came Almond, who read a riling story about female ejaculation, pausing between paragraphs for improv and to allow for guitar solos. The judges each took turns making crack-up comments before conferring, finally selecting Almond to go on as the night's first finalist.
After an eleven-second intermission, round two began with William Giraldi (AGNI) squaring off against Greeley. Giraldi led off with a downright staggering performance that kept the crowd in awed silence--even with drum-banging bands doing their best to distract. An unbeatable performance, many thought. But then came the night's final reader who delivered a dazzling performance (the first half of which was band-free, though an ambulance did noisily flash by outside), a story the judges couldn't resist (even after admitting the second round as impossible to pick), naming her the night's second finalist.
For the finale, absurdity reigned, as it always does at the LDM, as the two finalists went bag-to-bag at a splendiferous game of Boston Literary Tea Party. Each combatant was given ten tea bags (Irish breakfast) to throw into the cut-out mouths of legendary New England writers (Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, ee cummings). After seven throws, Greeley, an absolute sharpshooter with tea, had secured victory, putting herself in rare company as a Literary Death Match Champion.