May 1, 2010 — The Sugar Club played host to a magically intimate night of literature and levity, as Dublin's second-ever episode was decided by a narrow margin, as Julian Gough (featured in Best European Fiction 2010) outscribbled Glór Sessions' Stephen James Smith in a draw-off that ended 2-1, with Gough being sashed and medaled as Dublin's latest Literary Death Match champion.
But before the Sharpies and canvases were plucked from backstage, the night began with Some Blind Alleys rep Cathy Sweeney stepping to center stage against Smith. Sweeney was reserved and flawless, reading a brilliant story that had the audience hushed with curiosity, then Smith stepped up with a tone-changing twosome of poems that he reeled off with fantastic ease, performing the pair with a beer bottle in hand.
After the two were finished, the attention shifted to the panel of all-star judges that featured playwright Neil Watkins, journalist Tanya Sweeney and Not Also But Only's Shane Langan. The three reel off a series of witticisms and barbs, and made the very difficult decision of naming Smith the night's first finalst.
After a short Guinness break, Round 2 started in fantastic fashion with Maighréad Medhbh (Poets.org) leading off against Gough. She performed a pair of playful and sexy pieces, the last one of them sung aloud, and the crowd furiously applauding a seemingly unbeatable effort. Then Gough stepped up, and dared read three entries in the seven-minute time limit: an excerpt from his novel Jude: Level 1, a poem, and finally a song about a naughty party (losing and putting his jacket back on in the process).
The judges again were faced with the unenviable task of selection, and after a string of reaction, selected Gough as the night's second finalist.
Then came the finale, which tasked each finalist with drawing the judges in quick 20 second spurts, first Watkins, then Sweeney and finally Langan, with volunteer judges choosing their favorites. The first to two points would be deemed the winner. The first round went to Gough, a Picasso-esque effort. Round 2 was Smith's, a boob-fueled representation that the male judge couldn't resist. And with LDM immortality on the line, it was Gough's brilliant Langan that won him glory, a picture that was so lifelike, Langan surely felt he was glimpsing a mirror. Gough was the 2-1 winner, and the Literary Death Match title was his.