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Seattle, Ep. 2

November 11, 2009—The Literary Death Match return to Seattle (sponsored by Against Nature) was an absurdly fun affair, with playwright Kelleen Conway Blanchard scoring a narrow 6-3 victory over Stacey Levine in a battle of "Nonsensical Animal Toss" that featured each author throwing tiny plastic animals (Blanchard thew wild animals; Levine tossed animals from the farm) through the mouths of three famous writers: Virginia Woolf (3 points), Ernest Hemingway (2 points) and Sherman Alexie's gaping maw (1 point). 

But before the farm animals had entered stage left, the night kicked off with Aaron Dietz (Reserved for Emperors, representing KNOCK) taking on Levine. Dietz read a superhero-based piece that ended with him ripping open his shirt to reveal a secret identity, followed by Levine (winner of the PEN/West Fiction Award for My Horse and Other Stories, representing Dewclaw) who tore the proverbial cover off the literary baseball, reading a brilliant story from an adapted children's book called I Like Birds that featured not-so-children's-book themes.  

The mic was then turned over to the all-star judges Paul Constant (of The Stranger), Maria Semple (ex-writer for Arrested Development), and Jonathan Evison (All About Lulu). After a stream of comic-based comments, the judges decided Levine was the night's first finalist. 

Onto the second round, Blanchard (playwright of Small Town, representing Spin the Bottle) led off with a hilarious story about a doofusy rocker-type that had the audience tittering and fascinated. Then up stepped Danbert Nobacon (lead singer of Chumbawumba, representing Exterminating Angel Press). Nobacon read a haunting piece that featured a range of dark and vibrant voices like never before heard at a LDM. 

The judges again were handed the mic, and after much debate decided that Blanchard would be the night's second finalist. 

Then came the wild finale (watch it below, now!). Tasked with tossing plastic animals through a range of gaping-mouths writers, Levine and Blanchard shined in the first round of tosses, each scoring three points (all via Sherman Alexie's carved-out mouth). But while Blanchard scrambled for more ammo, Levine predictably called it quits, stepping off stage. A proxy was rushed under the hot lights immediately to play for her, and while he went for gold and an insta-victory by aiming for Virginia Woolf's 3-point mouth, it was Blanchard who pecked away and scored the victory with a final toss through Alexie's gaping mouth. The result: Blanchard won the contest, and in the process won Literary Death Match immortality. 

LDM Seattle, Ep. 2 Finale: Feed the Literati! from Opium Magazine on Vimeo.



LDM and Opium Sponsors

All proceeds supported the publication of Opium9: The Mania Issue.

Reader Comments (2)

Opium 9 should perhaps use a reminder on the number one rule in conducting an event, based upon supposed art: Remember your audience. A Seattle Audience is not amused by sophmoric tactics without a point as perhaps your former reptillian-brained audiences of other cities that you've death matched. Those of us who came to appreciate performance art focused on the literary community were left with a negative after taste in our mouths. Get a clue before you come back to the Emerald City.

November 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeckard Holden

I'd argue, Deckard, that there is a point to all of it. From the big-named title (that gets non-lit as well as lit-types in the door), to the silly finale (that aims to show that our aim isn't to make literature competitive in the end), and judges that serve to focus the viewers as it puts them into the position of being judge themselves.

Regardless of the format, it doesn't change the "performance art focused on the literary community" aspect of the evening. We give readers and writers an audience to perform to. What you think of it in the end is up to you.

November 28, 2009 | Registered CommenterLiterary Death Match

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