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Boston, Ep. 2

January 13, 2010—Literary Death Match’s return to Massachusetts for Boston, Ep. 2 to celebrate Opium9: The Mania Issue was a wild and talent-rich success that finished with a calamitous Musical Chairs finale led by one-mademoiselle-band Audrey Ryan, who plucked random tunes on her ukelele.  When the rubble settled, Handsome’s Janaka Stucky had come back from an improbable 3-1 deficit to beat out Open LettersElisa Gabbert, and be crowned the latest LDM champion.  

But well before Stucky achieved literary immortality at The Enormous Room, the night kicked off with Gabbert going word-vs.-word against Night Train’s Michelle Hoover. Gabbert led off, breezing through a series of short poems that tickled and surprised, followed by Hoover who equally captivated the concentrated crowd. 

The mic was then turned over to the judges, a trio that included AGNI senior fiction editor/author Billy Giraldi, Audrey Ryan on performance, and comedian Lamont Price on intangibles. Giraldi offered up his thoughts on the state of fidelity, Ryan discussed the competitors’ haircuts, and Price finished up with stream of conscious hilarity that had the audience in stitches. After a brief huddle, they narrowly selected Gabbert to be the night’s first finalist. 

After a boozy intermission, Stucky led off Round 2 against Four Stories combatant Steven Brykman. Stucky read a series of short works, hitting high and low notes with aplomb, reading from paper and then from memory, going blue, then serious, then humorous. His work cut out, Brykman followed with a hilarious story about a man’s sexual relationship with a photocopier that had every drinking audience member at risk of a spit-take.

The judges again took the mic, torn between Stucky’s vibrance, and Brykman’s jocularity, ultimately deciding that both readers had read nonfiction. After a huddle, Stucky was chosen, a coin-toss that went his way based on Brykman’s pushing over the time limit by a LDM record 4:22. 

Then came the Musical Chairs finale, in which Gabbert and Stucky were both paired with two audience members, in a last-team-standing affair. While Ryan strummed and plucked The Beatles, Stucky’s teammated were discarded quickly, leaving him one-on-three. But as the music turned to Oh, Susanna and Amazing Grace, Stucky hip-checked, out-maneuvered, and finally out-distracted his way to a shocking 3-2 victory, and the Literary Death Match championship.


Opium9 featuring cover artist Sean Landers

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