LITERARY DEATH MATCH SF 45: what it could be

Friday May 11th, 2012

Against my usual proclivities I decided to go to Literary Death Match – for the second time in three weeks – in part because I wasn’t going to miss my first chance to see Sarah Maria Griffin perform and also because I wanted to figure out what’s going on with LDM: it’s monthly, it’s every other month (good call), it’s twice a month; I can’t keep up; I just emailed founder and co-host Todd Zuniga some questions, so perhaps I will get back to you on that last part, but for now let us thank Todd for introducing Sarah to Jane Ganahl, who so kindly introduced her to me: I’m very happy to announce that Sarah will be contributing to Litseen on a regular basis for at least the next few months to help fulfill her visa requirements, as she has just moved here from Dublin less than 2 weeks ago. Let’s watch her perform some poems from her first book, Follies:

Now let’s admire this picture I stole from her twitter (OK I’m sorry but this might turn out to be a lovefest).

I’m reading Follies right now and you probably want to borrow it when I’m done but you can’t because you wouldn’t give it back so get your own copy.

If this were a traditional review I’d be confused right now because the show didn’t start with Sarah and I haven’t explained the rules of LDM, assuming you know them, but as it isn’t I hope you will come with me to see Michael David Lukas, who is about to tell us what it’s like when you have a #1 fan who flies you across the country, sets up an entire mini-tour for you, and then no one shows up and then everyone does:

Absolutely stellar, as you can see: it’s no wonder The Oracle of Stamboul was the 2012 selection for One Book One Marin.

Mg Roberts was recently awarded a Kundiman Fellowship and is one of the curators of the upcoming Beast Crawl (that’s July 7th); you can listen to her read some of her work on KQED’s Writers’ Block and watch her read passages from her forthcoming Missives of Appropriation:

What do you think? I had a hard time paying attention but felt that I wanted to, so I came home and goooooogled Mg and found that some of her writing – including even a small chunk of what she read at LDM – is readable online. Take a look:

Dear Dinosaurs,

The errors of how things can change. Extinction.
Pulls away. I am unlike myself. A gerund. Possessed
by the need to accumulate. Sailing ships. I imagine
history. Submerged in my throat. Have I told you?
There are things I have yet to translate. Missing

If you spend a minute with this block of text and realize you love it you should click on the link above that says “Take a look” because this block is linked with three others that give you a more complete idea of what Mg is doing. Going back and forth between her performance and the text I realize how hard it must be to perform such condensery; probably I would prefer more pauses; each phrase/idea deserves, I think, more than was given, though the piece she put together for LDM was far more narratological and therefore, impressively, was able to hold the audience. Honestly I was surprised by the warm reception she received after her reading; silly me thought because I couldn’t hang… Anyway, if you’re like me you’re looking forward to Missives of Appropriation!

As for 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Fiore… his “reading” was actually a collection of short animated comics he projected onto a screen; rather than do them injustice I hoped they would be on his website and am happy to report that they are:

Check out his YouTube channel for an abundance of really smart, political hysteria, served up with a healthy dose of literary sensibility. Insert expletive adjective! (There’s an iPhone App, you guys.)

There are a few dozen stills to be seen, too; I wonder if those of you who weren’t there can deduce what the double dare death match was all about.

The next LDM SF will be on July 21st at the Elbo Room, where this event was held, and co-hosted by Alia Volz, who began this show with a gorgeous tribute to Adam Yauch and Maurice Sendak that I so very sadly failed to capture.

You should have been there.