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SF, Ep. 53

August 16, 2014 — Before summer's swelter abandoned the Bay, Literary Death Match returned for a Saturday night of literary battle and comedic irreverance that ended with Carolina De Robertis outdueling Joshua Merchant in an epic Pulitzer Prize-themed Cyrillic Off by a score of 55-39 to win De Robertis the LDM SF, Ep. 53 crown.

But before the thrilling end, the night began with Earle McCartney — short storyist, Schaeffer Fellowship-winner and Iowa Writers’ Workshop grad — who read a brilliant and unsettling piece about a girl farmhand and the four creepy men that worked at the farm. Next up was De Robertis — bestselling and award-winning author of Perla and The Invisible Mountain — who's work shined glittery bright, as she reeled off a crowd-pleasing tale of a 17-year-old female violinist pretending to be a man. 

The mic was then turned over to the night's trio of all-star judges: Sarah Maria Griff, Irish author of Not Lost (); Kurt Bodden, writer, comedian and star of hit one-man show Steve Seabrook: Better Than You; and Jules Posner, comedian featured on’s No Drink Minimum and’s Road Trip on Hulu. The three took turns reeling off praise and quips galore before huddling up and making the night's first impossible decision, announcing it would be De Robertis who would be the night's first finalist. 

After a booze-skewed intermission, Round 2 commenced with Amrit Chima, world traveler and author of Darshan, who told the heartaching story of a dying mother that quieted the enthralled crowd. Then up stepped Joshua Merchant — writer, activist, and Youth Speaks and Berkeley Slam champion — who wowed with a pair of hard-hitting race-based poems that blew the crowd away. 

Again, the mic was passed to the judges, and again Griff + Bodden + Posner masterfully bathed the final two readers in compliments and witticisms before another impossible decision was upon them. After a painful deliberation they decided it would be Merchant who would advance as the night's second finalist. 

Then LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga took center stage, announcing the night's finale: a Cyrillic Off! The two finalists were each handed a Cyrillic alphabet and then Vouched Books' own Lauren Traetto held up posters of Pulitzer Prize-winning author names that had been "cyrillicized." After De Robertis raced out to a quick start, Merchant fought back, taking the lead. But when the title was on the line, De Robertis channeled Nabokov himself, and scored high in the final two rounds to secure victory, winning her LDM SF, Ep. 53 crown, and literary immortality to go with it. 

Follow us on Twitter: @litdeathmatch

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