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NYC, Ep. 14

May 27, 2009—Pianos was packed with a plenitude of people for Literary Death Match NYC Ep. 14, a brilliant affair that finished with a stirring game of the LDM original “Poet v. Madman.” After racing to an 8-8 tie at the end of regulation, Michael Muhammad Knight snared victory by guessing that the night’s final, mystery poet had 13 letters in his name, while Rivka Galchen guessed 24. The answer: Giuseppe Ungaretti (17). And Knight was crowned the newest LDM champ by NYC Ep. 13 B.C. Edwards.

But well before the final fireworks were lit and launched, a pair of stars led off in the first round, with Josh Weil (representing Guernica) taking the first turn at the mic, reading a sharply written story that snagged immediate attention from the standing-room only audience. Up next was Galchen, who’s ghostly, giggle-inducing tale had the crowd equally enthralled. After the pair of readings, the mic was turned over to a brilliant trio of judges: judging literary merit was Ben Greenberg (Grand Central Publishing), on performance was Chris March (Project Runway) and talking intangibles was Chelsea Peretti (comedian and writer). All spilled a series of quick quips before they converged and made their difficult decision, calling Galchen the night’s first finalist.


The crowd loves it!

With the room ablaze with excitement, the second round started straightaway. The round’s first reader was fabulist and brillianteur Anthony Tognazzini (representing BOA Editions). Filling in as a replacement for Saturday Night Live’s Alan Zweibel--who had a last-second emergency--Tognazzini turned his back to the judges to get better reading light, then spilled off a story that charmed, a story of finding the perfect woman, and repeatedly losing her. Next up was Knight, who took no prisoners with a reading that dropped listeners into Pakistan for a spell, with occasional Arabic spilling from the story. After it was announced that infamous LDM history was made--for the first time in the 37-episode history of the event all four readers broke beyond the eight minute time limit--the judges, once again challenged to come up with a finalist, selected Knight to advance.

Then came the finale, a rousing game of Poet v. Madman, in which each of the finalists were shown faces, each being either a poet or a madman (though sometimes, in terms of poets, the lines were blurry). They were given one point for a right answer, and another point for naming the killer or wordsmith. Instead of telling who was who in text, we’ll hold the names of who we showed--a video will come soon, and you can play along. But as you’ll see, the final battle was hotly contested, with Michael Muhammad Knight grabbing victory in overtime, and becoming the 37th Literary Death Match Champion!

See all the photos from this event here!

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