The Event: Literary Death Match (Nashville)
Setting: The Stone Fox, local rest/bar/hipster hangout, in an old house. Great food, terrible service. An old map of the infamous—and much missed—Opryland, now the site of the shopping mecca Opry Mills—framed on one wall. Long pinkish tinsel is the background to the small stage, in one corner. Standing room only at 8pm—I should have arrived earlier.
Audience: Loud, crowded, perfumed. Everyone is involved with their smartphones, though a few organic conversations pop up now and then, like aberrations. The crowd is inattentive at times. It’s the affected hipster pose: bored nonchalance. I’m pretty sure I heard shushing at one point.
Tone: See audience. Add lots of beards and smart looking eyewear.
Host: Adrian Todd Zuniga. Funny, engaging. In his opening remarks, says that Iceland has 100% literacy rate. Is this true? Also, one in ten Icelanders publish a book. I search for tickets to Iceland as Zuniga introduces the musical guest. I didn’t know there would be music.
Round 1: The first reader is female and reads a non-fiction piece on doulas and Ricky Lake. I’m fairly sure the audience has no idea who Ricky Lake is. Mild applause. The second reader wakes the audience from their nonchalant haze and they applaud wildly. Tiana Clark, local poet. Tiana reads poems about honeymoon sex, drugs, mental hospitals. I like her; I predict her as winner of the first round, though I do not stay to hear the official results.
Tiana Clark reads a poem about Walter Scott. #walterscott. The crowd is silent.
I leave during the judges remarks. I think to myself that I’d like to read for LDM, I’d like to be the reader, but not for this crowd.
I go home, and read the description of the first Nashville LDM, held at Third Man Records last October, and sigh longingly. I take off my fake beard and cry myself to sleep.