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Vilnius, Ep. 1

August 5, 2011 — In what has been deemed an "instant SLS Lithuania Classic" at Fluxus Ministerija, Literary Death Match's Vilnius debut was a boisterous and brainy affair that saw Daniella Gitlin out-smooch Czesław Miłosz to undo Zach Buscher's LDM title hopes, winning her the Literary Death Match crown. 

But before Lithuanian's greatest writer was loved up, the night kicked off with NYC's Gitlin facing off against New Orleans-based SLS scholarship-winner Nikita Nelin. The Moscow-born Nelin led off with a poignant and, in his words, "depressing" story about a man named Eddie. He was followed by Gitlin, who read a makeout-rich story of uncertainty and the gentlest desire.

The mic was then handed over to the trio of fantastic judges, including Guggenheim fellow Robin Hemley (author of DO-OVER!; Defunct Magazine editor), musican/scribe Maggie Golston and SLS's own Jake Levine. While Levine applauded both writers, like, literary merit, Golston fell for Gitlin's clothing pattern choice (stripes), and Hemley finished each judging session by relating each writers work to the wine he was sipping. After a huddle, it was Golston who took the mic and named Gitlin the night's first finalist. 

After a boozy intermission, Round 2 led off with a literary tag-team of Gwen Atkinson and Kate Wyer. The duo read, Atkinson from on her knees, from a laptop, while pulling flower petals galore, while Wyer stood. The crowd giggled throughout, and Buscher (editor of A Cappella Zoo), had his work cut out before the standing-room-only crowd. But he appealed to the locals, expressing his excitement to read in "Villaintown" and after removing his mirrored shades, and at one point grabbing his crotch, the crowd lit up with applause. 

The mic was again turned over to the judges, who loved both readings so equally that Hemley, before making the final announcement, "phoned a friend" from the audience to make the final decision. The Vilnius local said she narrowly sided with Buscher's handiwork, and it was Buscher who advanced as the night's second finalist. 

Then up stepped LDM creator Todd Zuniga, who revealed an enormous poster of Czesław Miłosz, and pulled out a Nerf pistol and asked an audience member to supply lipstick, as each finalist would have to "kiss" Miłosz, and the one closer to his lips would be crowned champion. After Gitlin teased "Miłosz's lip bullseye" after three shots, it was up to Buscher — eyes covered by an audience member known only as "the human blindfold" — to make a Robin Hood-like shot to win the LDM crown. But after the trigger was pulled, and the dart sailed wide of the target, it was Gitlin who was given the LDM medal and literary immortality was all hers! 

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