The Literary Death Match's expansion to Oxford's Corner Club was a stroke of genius (the genius brought to you by co-producers Xander Cansell & Badaude), as a wildly hard-fought battle of Musical Chairs led to poetic raconteur George Chopping (author of collections Derailed & Shelf Life) being crowned champion, as his three-man team overcame his early exit to overcome co-finalist Miranda Ward's trio of belles.
But an hour before the elbow-heavy battle for chair supremacy was even a consideration, the night—sponsored by Picador—led off with author Megan Kerr spilling a pair of crowd-gripping poems before Chopping stepped up and rattled off a series of belly-laugh producing pieces, all read from different sized tablets, books and pamphlets.
Host Todd Zuniga then turned the microphone over to the all star trifecta of judges that included multi-award winning poet Kate Clanchy, bestselling author and editor of the Idler magazine, Dan Kieran, and musician extraordinaire Ben Walker. After blithe commentary from Clanchy and Kieran, Walker upped the judging stakes by singing one-liners from each contestant's poetry. After a standing huddle (the first time in LDM history the judges have stood and huddled), the judges declared Chopping the night's first finalist.
After a wine-fueled intermission, round two began, led off by Ward, who's still and steady reading was countered by her opponent's motion (Jake Wallis Simons—graphic artist & author of The Exiled Times of A Tibetan Jew—strolled the aisle while telling a story filled with a series of not-quite-jokes). Both drawn magnificently during their performances by Badaude, upping the LDM nuttiness.
The judges again took turns spilling good-willed criticism, and Walker outdid himself, singing an off-the-cuff song about Simons' story. Again, a standing huddle, and this time Ward was selected the finalist.
For the finale, four volunteers were plucked from the crowd—two men joined Chopping, two women joined Ward—for a finale of Ultimate Musical Chairs. Walker played tunes, stopping at random, as the two teamsraced to plop their fannies squarely in the seat. Ward was the first to lose, then Chopping was out. Then a woman, then a man, leaving a final battle for the chair. One man and one woman elbowed and pushed, shoved and sashayed, until Walker's rendition of David Bowie's "Changes" stalled, and the man was able to drop into the seat first, giving Chopping the LDM title, and literary immortality.