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Montreal, Ep. 1

See photos from LDM Montreal's debut by clicking here!

March 13, 2011 — In one of the most brilliant city debuts in LDM history (presented by Summer Literary Seminars, and supported by Iambik Audiobooks), the winner — Jon Paul Fiorentino — managed to outlast co-finalist Melissa Bull in an epic social-networking finale that paid homage to Montreal's finest scribes. When it was all finished, Team Fiorentino won the closer-than-the-score-would-indicate finale 29-17. 

But before the first crowd member ventured towards the stage, the night kicked off with a first round that saw Alisha Piercy (author of Auricle / Icebreaker) lead off against Fiorentino (author of Indexical Elegies). Piercy was commanding as she quietly/powerfully delivered a sequence of poems from her latest chapbook You Have Hair Like Flags~. Next was Fiorentino, who was immediately hilarious before he sunk into the rich and breathtaking pieces from his recent collection focused on a friend's death.  

Then the mic was handed over to the night's all-star arbiters: Shorty Award champ Arjun Basu (author of Squishy), poet/painter/mind wizard Sherwin Tjia (author of Gentle Fictions), and endlessly charming ballerina Bryna Pascoe (of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens De Montréal). Basu lauded what he found to be Piercy's lit references to everyone from Yann Martel to Joseph Conrad, while Pascoe loved her slight kicking motion that delivered more emphasis to her excellent work, while Tjia loved that her look reminded him of '80s musician Tiffany. And about Fiorentino, Pascoe applauded his poetic "hunch" when he entered a sad poem, and Tjia went bawdy with his affection for Fiorentino's happy-sad dichotomy. After a long deliberation, they decided Fiorentino would be the night's first finalist. 

After a mingle-filled intermission, Round 2 kicked off with Maisonneuve's hand-picked poet Melissa Bull (author of Eating Out), squaring off against all-world humorist David McGimpsey (editor of Joyland and author of Certifiable and Sitcom). Bull stormed out with a short story about young lust ("sixteen going down on seventeen"), and McGimpsey followed with a whimsical and laugh-winning consideration of the McDonald's character Grimace. 

The judges were again handed the mic, with Basu applauding the sexiness of Bull's work, Pascoe the hotness, and Tjia was jokingly disgusted, referring to it as porn. As for McGimpsey, Basu and Pascoe spent many compliments, before Tjia said McGimpsey's hair reminded him of someone he worked with years ago, that had dreadlocks to his ankles. Again, a long deliberation took place, and after a tough call, the judges opted to put Bull forth as the night's second finalist. 

Then LDM creator Todd Zuniga started the wild finale, that asked each finalist — Fiorentino and Bull — to choose between two famous randomly-picked-from-a-hat Montreal-related scribes: from Naomi Klein to Adam Gopnik to Rufus Wainwright. Each writer's name was tied to two facts and audience members matching the parameters were asked to come on-stage (Leonard Cohen: come to the stage if you went to Herzliah High School OR if you were born before 1963 — when he published his first novel). With a 17-13 lead and only two names to go, it was Fiorentino's choice of Joel Fishbane (come on stage if you’ve ever carved a pumpkin OR if you have a diabetic cat) that widened his lead insurmountably, and won him not only the Literary Death Match crown, but literary immortality, to boot. 


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Summer Literary Seminars (based in Montreal) are a world renowned writing and cultural discourse program, hosting events in Russia, Kenya, Lithuania, and Canada, since 1998. Programs are upcoming in June (Montreal), August (Vilnius, Lithuania), and December (Nairobi-Lamu, Kenya) with faculty and guests including Tony Hoagland, Mary Gaitskill, Christian Bök, Gary Shteyngart, Kevin Canty, Matthew Zapruder, Francine Prose, Dawn Raffel, and many more.

Reader Comments (2)

Alisha will rock it
she can twist words and worlds to the death

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNook Yann

Photos or it didn't happen.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArjun Basu

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