Literary Death Match is an international literary event started in 2006 in New York by writer Todd Zuniga. It’s X Factor meets The Bloomsbury set. You recite to stay in the game and to stay alive, metaphorically of course.
The second London installment of the Literary Death Match took place last week in Concrete and was 80s themed to celebrate the release of Bret Easton Ellis’ latest novel Imperial Bedrooms. The judging panel boasted the hilarious Simon Hickson (of Trevor & Simon), KnockBack’s Marie Berry and Sun journalist and stand-up comedian Dave Bromage. The first of two electrically charged rounds kicked off with i-D’s Reporter-at-Large Milly McMahon going head to head with poet Clare Pollard, but Clare’s paced poetry won out. The next round saw the audience in stitches with Nikesh Shukla’s reading from his novel Coconut Unlimited, featuring superb improv beat boxing, but he was met with stiff competition from Lee Rourke who delivered a considered reading from his novel The Canal. In a controversial decision from the judges, Lee Rourke proceeded to the wholly democratic finale, consisting of ‘who can name the 80s tune fastest’, and was crowned winner.
The Literary Death Match opens up the great literary tradition as entertainment; a night of good clean fun, measured only by the rules of syntax. For must we really sit on the shore where T.S Eliot lost his mind to understand his writing; lay our heads in the oven to identify with Sylvia Plath, or, as the Literary Death Match advocates, can we enjoy literature guzzling beverages in a crowded sweaty room accompanied by blasting 80s classics and show hostesses wearing head-to-toe sequins?
The next Literary Death Match takes place in Edinburgh on 10th August.