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Friday
Oct042013

Brattleboro, Ep. 2

October 4, 2013 — In the most glorious, triumphant return since Mark Twain's memoir was released, Literary Death Match returned to the Brattleboro Literary Festival to for a night that will live in Vermont's literary lore, as Roxana Robinson narrowly edged Pam Houston by a single point in a Literary Spelling Bee finale that won Robinson the Brattleboro, Ep. 2 crown.

But before the spelling of complicated author names would decide the winner, the night kicked off with Robinson (the award-nominated author of Sparta and four New York Times Notable Books) who delighted with a titillating story of her standard poodle killing a grey squirrel before horrified passerby, followed by Rigoberto Gonzales (author of So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks — a National Poetry Series selection— and Crossing Vines — ForeWord Magazine’s Fiction Book of the Year) who blew minds with a trio of staggering poems — about loneliness after moving to NYC; being used as a model by a sketch artist; and using a pseudonym — which had the audience in throes. 

The mic was then handed over to the trio of all-star judges: Steve Yarbrough (author of 8 books, including the award-nominated Safe from the Neighbors); Carmelita TropicanaObie Award-winning performance artist, playwright, and 2014 Vermont Performance Lab artist; and voice actor/radio host Tom Bodett, author (Williwaw! and more). The trio reeled off endlessly charming and hilarious commentary with Yarbrough relating Robinson's story to visionary director's, finishing with Tarantino, while Tropicana broke into a string of Spanish to praise Gonzales, and Bodett going intangible and beyond to express his delirium over the tension and calm brought on by the two author's works.  

After a painful and ongoing deliberation, the judges finally making the night's first impossible decision, naming Robinson as the night's first finalist. 

Following a booze-and-chatter filled intermission, Round 2 commenced with Chris Castellani (author of All This Talk of Love; Massachusetts Book Award winner of A Kiss from Maddalena) delivering a dazzlingly heartaching story about a successful lawyer's experience of cruising in a park and meeting up with a younger, willing kid. Then it was Pam Houston (multi-award-winning author of Cowboys are My Weakness) who wowed and whoa'd with a pair of excerpt from her latest book Contents May Have Shifted, that featured a fascinating set of women and finished with a maniac squirrel banging relentlessly against a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door. 

Again the mic was handed to the judges, with Yarbrough saying about Houston's piece that squirrels were having a rough night, while Tropicana was filled with liking every single aspect of Houston's work. About Castellani, Bodett admitted the piece had, very possibly, shifted his sexual preference. 

Again, the judges struggled, but after a long discussion, it was announced that Houston would go on to be the night's second finalist.

Then up stepped LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga, who announced the finale: Robinson and Houston would be tasked with spelling out increasingly complex author names, winning a point for each letter they got right. It came down to the final round, with Robinson down by 8 points and E-U-G-E-N-I-D-E-S to spell to win it all. With the crowd on the edge of their chairs, Robinson didn't miss a beat, besting Houston by the slightest of margins to win Robinson the LDM Brattleboro, Ep. 2 medal and literary immortality to go with it. 

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