The Literary Death Match. I can easily say that for me it was one of the highlights of 2011, even though it scared the shit out of me.
People filed into the theater at the Smart Project Space, more people than I had anticipated. I ducked into one of the reserved chairs in the front row, my back turned to the masses, pretending they weren’t there. My muse and a couple of friends had my back, so I could concentrate on breathing.
What breathing? I didn’t breathe at all.
Todd Zuniga and Megan C. Garr took the stage. They introduced the Literary Death Match and what it was about: 4 readers reading from their work, 3 jurors ready to slash 2 of the readers, 1 in every round. And of course the epic finale where the two survivors of the earlier rounds would fight to the death.
Call it luck, call it fate, but I was the first one to go. My opponent poet Jane Lewty won the toss and sent me into the arena first. I read my piece. Scary stuff from my YA thriller — I think I’ve got the title nailed now: You’re Not Icarus; You’ll Make It. 7 minutes flat and I made it to the sizzling end of one of the most gruesome scenes in the book in time , keeping Megan from shooting me down.
Jane came on stage. Iowa-born poet and assistant professor at the University of Amsterdam, she recited a poem about fellow Iowan and serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
Yeah, well, who can compete with a man who killed 33 teenagers?
Anyway, the jury let Jane live and I could sit back and relax.
Next were author Philibert Schogt and poet Anna Arov. Philibert won the toss and left the stage to Anna who brought her sexy poetry with suspense and wit. The Jury appointed her winner of the round, but for me Philibert was the winner. Not because of his being the other Dutch contestant, but because I am a math girl. He read from Wild Numbers, his novel about a mathematician Isaac Swift. The scene? Swift making love to his girlfriend while wrapped up in a math problem. I loved his prose, I loved his characters and I loved his style.
The epic finale was a spelling bee and not just any spelling bee. Jane and Anna had to spell the names of famous writers. While Philibert and I sat back and watched, they got to spell Dutch authors like Multatuli and Nooteboom. The stakes were raised with Houellebecq and finally Jane won when Anna, despite her Russian roots, found her Waterloo at Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn.
Of course only when I got home I realized I had failed to introduce myself and my book and the fact that it was my first reading in English for a large audience and my first manuscript in English. Slumping back onto the couch I just knew I was a winner.
I had an absolute fabulous time at the Literary Death Match and if you ever have the chance you go there! It’s hilarious and fun and you get to hear great stuff from great writers. Way to go Todd Zuniga for giving us the Literary Death Match!
Some pictures of the night: