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Providence, Ep. 1

October 16, 2012 — On a chilly, mid-autumn night in Rhode Island's capital city, Literary Death Match made its talent-packed Providence debut (our 46th city!) at the Empire Black Box before a brilliant crowd that saw poet Mairéad Byrne outduel Poets Out Loud prize winner Darcie Dennigan in a Literary Spelling Bee by a final score of 24-16, winning Byrne the LDM Providence crown. 

But before the calamatous finale was even a thought, the night kicked off with Big Other managing editor John Madera lighting out with a tale filled with linguistic pyrotechnics  titled "Bees Build Perfect Hexagons with Their Spit") before running the maximum of nine minutes, at which point the first row made their way to center stage to hug him. Up next was Dennigan (author of Madame X and Corinna A-Maying the Apocalypse) who countered with a series of poems, one starring an always crying baby in a hazmat house, and the final poem a piece about taking a wild-minded tour of a napkin. 

The mic was then turned over to the night's trio of all-star judges: poet Gillian Kiley (contributor to Keyhole 6), screenwriter Joe Birbiglia (Sleepwalk with Me), and Boston-based stand-up comedian Gary Petersen. The crowd whooped with joy as the trio delivered a bevy of laugh lines before huddling and facing the night's first impossible decision, but finally declared Dennigan as the night's first finalist. 

Then came Round 2, which pitted Byrne (author of Lucky and The Best of (What's Left of) Heaven) leading off by first reading a poem in Irish, followed by a magical poem about the body that kept perfectly questioning togetherness, in which Ben Franklin's wife was called "Not a woman. She's a pomegranate." She was followed by Performance Thanatology founding director Ric Royer (author of Anthesteria) who was an intangibles-judge dream, as he first read the phone numbers of saints, and at one point asked an audience member to pick out hte most attractive person in the room (he chose the bartender). 

Again the judges were handed the microphone, and the trio delivered with bullseye-smart quips, and after much praise for both perfomers, the judging ended with Petersen calling numbers from Royer's story, until he got an answer (Royer protested his work was fiction, but then a woman answered!...only to hang up). The final call wasn't an easy one, but it was Byrne who was declared the night's second finalist. 

For the final round, LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga with producer Kirsten Sims' help, as Byrne and Dennigan took turns at a Literary Spelling Bee. It was neck and neck until Byrne pulled away, but Dennigan had one final shot, but couldn't unravel the complication of Ngugi Wa'Thion'go's last name, winning Byrne the LDM crown, and literary immortality to go with it. 

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