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Book Fair's Literary Death Match Pits Florida Writers Against Each Other in Battle Royale

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In addition to the Mad Max, post-apocalyptic kind, death matches come in many flavors, including the bookish variety. And this year, the Miami Book Fair International's The Swamp lounge is hosting a Florida-themed Literary Death Match, featuring writers (and one judge) who hail from the Sunshine State.

So what is a LDM, exactly? Think of it as cage fight meets poetry slam, American Idol meets book club. Four local writers will read their most "electric" works in a series of rounds, followed by no-holds-barred commentary by judges. The action will culminate in an "anything goes," totally unpredictable finale.

See also: The Ten Best Things to Do at Miami Book Fair International

The knock down, drag out literary fight to the finish includes two rounds featuring four readers and three judges.

"Each reader has seven minutes to read some of their most electric work," says Nicole Swift, the event producer and program coordinator for The Center for Writing and Literature @MDC and Miami Book Fair International.

The judges rate the readers based on merit, performance and intangibles (which could essentially be anything, from backwards hair parts to intonation), Swift explains.

"It's sometimes ridiculous, sometimes really hilarious."

The death match has been a part of the book fair for awhile, but this is its first installment in Florida-themed lounge venue The Swamp, a new addition to the fair this year.

Judges include Ben Katchor, MacArthur genius grant-winning cartoonist, and creator of Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer; Miami's own Billy Corben, director of Cocaine Cowboys, ESPN 30 for 30's The U, Broke and The U Part 2 and Ariel Schrag, Eisner Award-nominated author of Potential, Awkward, Definition and the novel, Adam.

Readers include the New Times' own Broward Palm Beach Music Editor Liz Tracy; Jennine Capo Crucet, author of award-winning How to Leave Hialeah & Make Your Home Among Strangers; Neil de la Flor, author of the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize-winning Almost Dorothy; and J.J. Colagrande, professor, journalist, and author of novels Decò and Headz.

The whole shebang will be hosted by LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga.

"Since this is the first year we have The Swamp at the Book Fair, we wanted all the all the readers to be from Miami or Florida and we wanted at least one judge to represent Miami, so that's why we have Billy Corben," Swift explains. "It's kind of like an American Idol-style literary showdown."

Two of the writers are randomly pitted against each other, then the winner moves on to the next round. There's a 15-minute break for music and mingling before the finale.

"The finale is always different, anything from literary trivia to spelling an author's name backwards -- we have no idea what Todd has in store for us this year but, suffice it to say, it'll be really fun."

Plus, the Swamp is a must-visit. There's a bocce ball court and a pop-up bookstore, and Biscayne Bay Brewing will be selling beers. The death match starts at 8 p.m. (and it's free!), but they've got a lineup of events before and after -- the Tattooed Ballerinas starting at 6 p.m. and at 7 p.m., the WLRN film screening of Muhammed Ali: Made in Miami

Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahgetshappy.

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