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The globetrotting force of nature that is the Literary Death Match returns to London on the 16th of February. Explaining the concept behind the night to friends can be difficult, but this writer usually goes with something along the lines of, ‘a brilliantly amusing cross between a poetry slam and the X-Factor, except with more narrative readings and less callous exploitation’.
Needless to say that description often provokes skeptical looks, but the way it works is this: four up-and-coming writers are invited to read under a strict seven-minute time limit, with each competing against one of the others. Once both have performed, a panel of judges confer to select a winner based on the categories of performance, literary merit and ‘intangibles’. These three judges are plucked from all across the (vaguely) literary spectrum, and range in profession from writers to broadcasters to comedians — indeed their often hilarious commentary is worth the entrance fee alone. Once a winner is selected from each round, they are pitted head-to-head in a wonderfully irreverent finale to determine the overall victor.
Literary Death Match began in New York City five years ago, and since then the violence has spread all across the US and the world. The bout taking place in London this month will be the city’s twelfth since 2009 and, if the line-up of readers and judges is anything to go by, promises to be up to the usual high standard. Definitely worth a look.
The Literary Death Match ‘Post-Valentine’s Day “Love Hurts” Spectacular’ will be held at Shoreditch House, below Pizza East, in Shoreditch, East London from 7pm. Tickets cost £5 for pre-orders and students or £8 on the door.
ETA: The event will now be held at Shoreditch House (next to Concrete, the original venue). Entrance is at 13 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6AW.