Literary Death Match (LDM) – A Beginner's Guide

Preview by Renée Rowland | 02 Aug 2012

LDM pitches poets, authors and the literati against each other on a stage: a battleshow of words and talent, a global event on a local stage celebrating the best of local produce, and its ruthless nature means only the finest writers survive. If you’ve never been before, this is what you can expect:

LDM takes place every few weeks in all the great cities of the world, from Tokyo to Toronto and including our very own Edinburgh. Your gracious host, founder and all round enthusiast, Todd Zuniga, chairs each event. To start the show, he’ll introduce the contenders ('in the blue trunks, in the poets' corner we have…'): four of the best up and coming writers, thinkers and wordsmiths from around the city and surrounds. 

Once the talent has been introduced, Zuniga will introduce the judges: a panel of local critics, comedians and literati glitterati who have the grave responsibility of determining the winners of each battle round while entertaining the audience with their reasoning.

With the scene set, contenders and judges met, the battle can commence. Taken in rounds, a pair of contenders are pitted against each other, each with 7 minutes to read an excerpt from their work – poetry, short stories, excerpts of novels. The short, intense minutes under the spotlight are all they have to showcase their talent and convince the judges of their merit in order to win a place in the final.  After the first round, the judges confer, confabulate and choose a winner, whether you agree or feel a grave injustice.  With little remorse or grievance for the loser, round two swiftly follows with the final pair of contenders battling for a place in the final. 

The final – the denouement – takes leave of the judges' opinions and sensibilities and determines the winner based on other channels. Inasmuch as the location for each episode of the LDM changes, so too does the format of the final, but Zuniga ensures the unknown element always proves to be entertaining and creative. It might involve a basketball hoop, it might involve figurative revenge on book burners, it might try to put the world to rights via Scrabble: whatever it does, a winner will be found and celebrated. LDM has the ability to compress and showcase a spectrum of everything that is great about literature and the enterprising unexpectedness is the beauty of it. [Renee Rowland]