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NYC, Ep. 28

July 15, 2010 — Literary Death Match went all poetical for the event's 28th-ever NYC-based episode, that saw a breakneck game of Shove the Balloon through the Hoola Hoop won by Jon Sands over C.S. Carrier by a 4-1 margin. 

But before the first balloon was hoisted, LDM NYC Exec Producer Ann Heatherington and co-host Melissa Broder (When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother) and creator of The Polestar Poetry Series, commiserated about vermin, reviewed the rules of engagement, and brought out the trio of all-star judges: mega-watt poet Jeff McDaniel (Best American Poetry 1994 and New (American) Poets), high priestess of visual wordplay Kay Rosen (MoMA, The Whitney Museum) and Slam Master Flash Lynne Procope

Round one pitted one-man soul train Sands (representing Write Bloody Publishing) against verse virtuoso Michael Morse (representing Spinning Jenny). Morse read two topical pieces from his Void and Compensation series. The first, (Wizards and Bulls), weaved together the Obama presidency, NBA basketball, and corporate greed, the second (Facebook) explored the familiar question: "to friend or not to friend." Sands toke the stage by storm with 2.25 poems: "Epithalamion - For Mollie & Jacob" and "On The Bus in Queens," and the last cut short in a barrage of nerf ammo administered by Border after Sands defied the 7-minute limit. 

The mic was then handed over to our trio of all-star judges, who appreciated Morse's precision and controlled delivery, but Procope admitted she was "hoping for a fast break." Turning to Sands, they praised his touching, surprising turns in the first piece, and his "spot-on" characterization of his MTA comrade. While the judges were torn between our readers to the point of a near stalemate, Sands got the audience in on a sing-along of "Stand By Me." Deliberations were finally brought to a halt when gun-toting Broder once again unleashed a torrent of squishy bullets -- this time into the judges' huddle -- and they selected Sands as the night's first finalist. 

After the intermission,intro'd the second round which kicked off with Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz (founder of the Urbana Poetry Slam series) reading a series of "historically true" poems starting off with a piece about Howard Taft "our fattest president," followed by "Little Heard True Stories about Benjamin Franklin." Next up was C.S. Carrier (After DaytonLyric, and The 16s), who countered with a pair of poems, the first: "Law of Universal Gravitation," a steady-said poem that featured the words "the brain was thinly sliced prosciutto...the soul an aftertaste." 

Again the mic was handed to the judges, they adored Aptowicz's nods to history and performative genius, loved Carrier's details, diction and beyond, with McDaniel digging his "1% of Henry Rollins." After a difficult (though much shorter) deliberation, they selected Carrier to advance as the night's second finalist. 

For the finale, it was Independence Day scribes v. Bastille Day poets as Sands and Carrier were tasked with getting four balloons through hula hoops, with their hands tied behind their back. But that stopped neither poet from using hands instead of feet to lift-and-shove the balloons through the volunteer-held hoops. Sands was unstoppable en route to victory, winning both literary immortality, and the Literary Death Match crown. 

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