March 18, 2011 — Glamour Bar at M on the Bund set a gorgeous stage for Literary Death Match's Shanghai debut, hosted by LDM's Ann Heatherington and presented by Shanghai International Literary Festival. And in the end it was SJ Rozan who outdueled Jenn Chan Lyman in a crazy-close game of Poet v. Madman.
But before the finale was even a thought, the night kicked off with four fearsome women with substantial literary chops. First-round combattants Nancy Conyers (creator of Shanghai's "So, You Want to Write") and Jenn Chan Lyman went head to head, expertly bringing their quirky characters to life: Conyers' Honey, the Texan transplant to Shanghai with big blonde hair, an even bigger backside, her placenta facials, and a twangy "xie xie,"; Lyman's swaggering, tracksuited, 2012-fearing, astrology-loving, bladder-challenged Louie.
Admittedly a tough call for judges novelist Vikram Chandra (author of National Book Award finalist Sacred Games), dry-witted chef and restaurateur Michelle Garnaut (Litfest founder) and LDM Beijing, Ep. 2 champ and short-fiction genius John Leary. Chandra, appreciatively noted the scatalogical themes emerging, while Leary gave Conyers a score of 127, and awarded Lyman a Theta symbol. In the end, it was Lyman who eked out a victory (though judges were impressed with Chan's defiance under fire) to advance to the finals.
Next up, Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Nero, and Macavity award-winning mistress of mysteries, Rozan regaled a packed house with a shiver-inducing noir tale of S&M-turned-murder. Irish poet Martina Evans (author of Facing the Public and the former Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Queen Mary) then took the stage shared three poems on Dentists, Divorce, and Mothers.
Again, the judges were handed the mic. Chandra loved Rozan's unflinching blood-soaked scarefest but Evans captured Garnault, who empathized with the dentistry horror stories. Leary's inscrutable drawings illustrated well the tough decision that the judges had in front of them, and after a difficult deliberation, they ultimately gave the round to Rozan.
The Shanghai showdown was a nail-biter, and the audience held its collective breath throughout the escalating tension of the Poet v. Madman finale. Team Rozan eventually tipped the scales with a score of 8-7, winning the finals with the help of one Jeffrey Dahmer.