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Chicago, Ep. 9

March 10, 2016 — As part of our global 10-Year Celebration, Literary Death Match returned to the Windy City for our debut at iO Chicago for a night of lit and wit stars that ended with Erika L. Sanchez outdueling Tim "Toaster" Henderson in a fierce Literary Spelling Bee III battle that won Sanchez the LDM Chicago, Ep. 9 crown.

But before the finale was even a thought, the night kicked off with Fred Sasaki, writer, art director for Poetry magazine, gallery curator for Poetry Foundation, who read a blazingly smart fan letter to Katy Perry that had the crowd in throes. Next up it was the all-world Tim "Toaster" Henderson, performance poet, mural artist and musician, who delivered a pair of perfectly-performed poems that amazed at every level.

The mic was then handed to the night's trio of all-star judges: Luis Alberto Urrea, Pulitzer Prize finalist & member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame; Carrie Coon, award-winning actress featured in Gone Girl and HBO's The Leftovers; and Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, Glue, Filth and The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins. The three traded hilarious quips and wonderful praise for each author before making the night's first impossible decision, as Henderson was advanced as the night's first finalist. 

Then the brilliant Chicago eve zipped into Round 2, led off by Erika L. Sanchez, essayist, Cosmopolitan columnist & author of the upcoming Lessons on Expulsion (releasing in 2017) who blew minds with a short piece that centered on women and humor. Finally it was Audrey Niffenegger, international best-selling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife & Her Fearful Symmetry, who made the crowd swoon with a dazzling short piece of her own.

Then, again, the judges were center stage as they riffed and hilarified with brilliant commentary before huddling up a second time and deciding the night's second impossible decision, naming Sanchez the night's second finalist.

Then up stepped LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga, who announced the night's finale: Literary Spelling Bee III, in which Henderson and Sanchez took turns spelling more and more complicated author names. In the final round, with everything to play for, it was Sanchez who nailed the final letter, winning her the Literary Death Match Chicago Ep. 9 medal and literary immortality to go with it.