August 20, 2011 — In one of the most historic events LDM has ever produced, it was Susan Steinberg who wrestled victory from co-finalist Caitlin Myer by a very narrow margin to win the Literary Death Match crown!
Held at the sleek, swank, surprising Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, BAN6 Presents: Literary Death Match featured four authors performing original writings inspired by paintings in YBCA’s BAN6 Visual Art Exhibition. Artists from the exhibition served as judges: Tony Labat, lauded multimedia artist, tap-danced over the borders of coherency while evaluating literary merit; drag artiste Mica Sigourney kept the zingers zinging as performance judge; and Chris Sollars, professional experimentalist, rendered the verdict on intangibles.
Ushering the Saturday-night crowd down this river of modern artistry like wizened ferry pilots, Alia Volz delivered her trademark sartorial (read: dress tailored from a cubist painting) and verbal pyrotechnics, while co-host Bucky Sinister whiled away the interludes with charming war stories from a life of assumed-name poetry, such as the time he was asked to waive hostage negotiation rights at San Quentin.
Susan Steinberg, author of story collections Hydroplane! and The End of Free Love, unclogged the pipes with a response to Richard Walker’s “The speed and eagerness of meaning”: an urban, urbane ramble on art, looking at art, art as conversation and relationship knitter, touching on lightning fields and snail sex, the sliding appeal of nature, and photographs of legs. Slam-poet sensation and birthday girl Chinaka Hodge built off Weston Teruya’s “Time is out of joint (or haunting the future city)” with a blistering sucker-punch of a story about, pertinently, a juvie-hall sucker-punch. Judges bantered, Bucky reminisced, and Steinberg moved on to the finals.
In Round Two, Jonathon Keats—experimental artist and author of The Book of the Unknown, and subject of one of the most entertaining entries in all of Wikipedia—meditated on Mauricio Ancalmo’s “Dualing Pianos: Agapé Agape in D Minor” with a Saromagian fable about a boy spending his life in search of the divine. Firing back, Caitlin Myer—founder of Portugese Artists Colony—reflected on the singular desperation of unemployment and parenthood as extrapolated from Chris Fraser’s “Developing a mutable horizon.” Classily absorbing a full-on SEAL Team Six-style assault for breaching the seven-minute-mark, Myer held on through a dazed round of judging focused on her sequined dress, and won the second round.
The Finals flushed ahead with a paint-by-numbers/literary trivia extravaganza which birthed an impressive portrait by illustrator Chris Koehler in less than ten minutes. Challenged to decipher authorial fashion clues, such as ID-ing the quotes “Brevity is the soul of lingerie” (Dorothy Parker) and “A writer without a bottle of whisky is like a chicken without a goddamn head” (Faulkner), Steinberg and Myer gently carved each other up in the manner of amiable swashbucklers, with Steinberg eking out the championship on the final clue.
Victorious, crowned, medalled and beflowered, Steinberg held the microphone like the Statue of Liberty. “I feel like a real writer now,” she declared, a statement which, for all of its lively surroundings, was definitely not bullshit.
--Write-up by Matt Stewart
This FREE show was sponsored by The Written Wardrobe, a literary anthology published by ModCloth and comprised of pieces that explore the ways style influences our lives. We are accepting submissions for the second issue until October 1st, 2011. More information can be found about submission guidelines at The Written Wardrobe.