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Montgomery County, Ep. 1

April 25, 2015 — To close out an insane April, Literary Death Match headed to southeast Pennsylvania to partner with the Montgomery County Poet Laureate program to celebrate National Poetry Month in style. The fantastic night ended with Ryan Torres outlasting Autumn Konopka by a score of 12-11 in a hotly contested battle in Literary Spelling Bee II, winning Torres the LDM Montgomery County, Ep. 1 crown. 

But before the finale was even a thought, the night kicked off with Konopkapoet and author of a chain of paper dolls (Head & the Hand Press), who reeled off a poem in four parts — a brief history of Noah. Then it was Fran Baird who read a trio of pieces, opening with a startling frank poem about receiving a call from his mother saying she wished he'd never been born. 

Then the mic was handed over to the night's trio of star judges: Laren McClung, multi-fellowship winning author of Between Here and Monkey MountainChrissy Malvasi, poet, actor, musician and editor of Challenges for the Delusional; and Christopher Bursk, multi-prize-winning recipient of NEA, Guggenheim, and PEW Fellowships,  and author of 13 books including Ovid at 15. The three traded praise and quips about each poet before deciding it would be Konopka who would advance as the night's first finalist. 

Then came Round 2, led off by Helen Mirkil, who dazzled with six poems, highlighted by a piece about her vain, grandmother Mimi. Finally it was Ryan Torres, poet, playwright and horror fiction writer, and the editor of the Burned Books Review, who read a trio of poems, led off by poetry itself coming to invade his life by crashing on his couch. 

Again the judges were center stage, as they lauded each poet before deciding the night's second finalist would be Torres. 

The LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga stepped up to announce the night's finale: Literary Spelling Bee II, in which Konopka and Torres were tasked with spelling increasingly difficult author names. After Konopka had what appeared to be a commanding three-letter lead, Torres used his "phone-a-friend" to bring up a ringer who nailed the first four letters of Binyavinga Wainaina to give Torres the four points he needed, winning him the LDM Montgomery County, Ep. 1 medal, and literary immortality to go with it.