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SF, Ep. 8

April 9, 2008—To commemorate National Poetry Month, the Literary Death Match’s Episode 8 brought poetic pyrotechnics to the forefront at the Rickshaw Stop. The first-ever poetry-based LDM--hosted by Canteen’s own (and a poet himself) Sean Finney--finished with a flourish as Rupert Estanislao walked away unscathed and victorious.

The night kicked off with Clive Matson (publisher of the Crazy Child Scribbler) versus Andy Dugas (Unlikely Stories). Matson reeled off a beautiful series of “Songs”--beautiful love poems, and Dugas followed with a response to Carl Sandberg’s “Fog” and poems about his home for four years: Brasil. After the readings, the judges commented, and intangibles judge Alan Black (in his excellent Scottish accent) said that he imagined Matson’s work in a Scorsese film, tied up in a chair, about to be thrown in the East River, and Dugas’ dressed up as a lumberjack, bombing rocks into the fire. While the judges chatted privately, Dugas--a birthday boy--was given a piece of carrot cake and a huge balloon to celebrate the occasion, and was treated to a blush-causing singing of Happy Birthday. But being a year older didn’t influence the judges, as they selected Matson as the night’s first finalist.

During the intermission: cake for all! Long live Sky Hornig’s cake skills!

To kick off the second round, Rupert Estanislao (Suicide Kings) began with a poem about working at Wal-Mart as a minority, rife with thoughtful, laugh out loud moments. He continued with a chilling piece about a massacre in the Phillipines, and a chilling poem about working at the Ritz Camera at 18th and Castro. He was followed by Justin Chin (Manic D Press), who read downright powerful poems about his father, and dying of cancer.

Litquake co-founder and literary merit judge Jane Ganahl piped up, saying she loved Estanislao’s image of “white men as pink as steamed prawns.” While Canteen’s managing editor and performance judge Mia Lipman--who decided to think of each reader as a band--said, “I would never book these two bands together. Everyone’s heads would explode.” Black followed by imaging Estanislao’s poem being in a time machine and going back to Lord Byron and reading these poems to him, which would make Byron wish he was born in the 20th Century. Chin’s work: a fish factory in Iceland. The decision was difficult, but in the end, Estanislao won by a narrow margin.

In the wacky finale it was a heated game of Poet or Madman! in which the contests were shown enormous black and white pictures of The Unabomber, Allan Ginsberg, Shel Silverstein, Charles Manson and Michael Jackson. Estanislao edged out Matson in dramatic fashion, scoring a victory for poetry everywhere!