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Iowa City, Ep. 2

March 2, 2011 — In what was simply a Hawkeye State classic at The Mill, LDMs return to Iowa City was a ridiculous triumph that saw Wag's Revue Essays Editor Sandra Allen out-Literary Memory her co-finalist/nemesis Robin Hemley in a hotly-contested finale that ended 5-3, winning Allen the LDM crown. 

But before any memory banks were challenged, the night kicked off with co-host Andre Perry introducing the night's first round — featuring a pair of literary homerun hitters in Guggenheim Fellows Robin Hemley and Chris Offutt. Offutt (Kentucky Straight; The Good Brother) led off with a brilliantly wild novel excerpt that he dedicated to his grandfather, whilst he wore his grandfather's flair-dappled blazer. Next up was Hemley (author of DO-OVER!; Defunct Magazine editor) who read about an inter-office email gone horribly wrong. 

The mic was then handed off to the three, talent-laden arbiters that included LDM Iowa City, Ep. 1 champ David Gorin, knockout actor/director Saffron Henke and saxophonist-for-the-Violent Femmes-for-20-years/poet Pete Balistrieri. Offut's jacket was lauded by all, along with his use of monkeys, but in the end the judges narrowly sided with Hemley, and his story's "re: re: re: re:" musicality. 

After a brief and boozy intermission, Round 2 commenced with poet Micah Bateman going up against Wag's Revue's Essays Editor Sandra Allen. Bateman started off by quietly reading a series of stirring poems that had the crowd on their collective seat edges, followed by Allen who was immediately energetic as she wound through a fantastic story that starred Wikipedia, and 7'7" women. 

Again the judges were handed the mic. Gorin gloriously praised Bateman (who he admitted he had intended to insult), Henke commended Allen's vocal power and authority, and Balistrieri reeled off seemingly nonsensical non-sequiturs that were ultimately remarkably hilarious and filled with clarity. The result: after one of the LDMs longest deliberations in history, Allen was deemed the night's second finalist. 

Then up stepped co-host and LDM creator Todd Zuniga to pull off a finale which featured 14 volunteers holding images of Iowa City writer alums who had been, were slated to be, or would eventually be in the Literary Death Match. Hemley and Allen battled through the early rounds, scoring points when matching up Jane Smiley, Daniel Alarcon, Peter Orner, and with only two more pairs to make, and Diablo Cody and Yiyun Li off the board, it was Allen's matching up of all-world poet D.A. Powell that snared Allen the 5-3 victory, winning her not only the LDM championship, but literary immortality. 

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