Literary Death March coming to Oxford

Published 11:49 am Friday, September 18, 2015

Oxford has crowed about the draw and power of our literary figures.  It is time pull them away from their Underwood portable typewriters and make them stand on their own words. If only some forum existed for writers to battle word against word.  Not some slam poetry scatting event but a writer’s best words against another writer’s best. A death match of the written word.   

Adrian Todd Zuniga has created such a beast in Literary Death Match a touring format that mixes game show with literature.

The live event takes the often Windham Hill nature of literary events and adds dashes of ridiculousness that has writers sharing their stories how they hear them within their head.

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A panel of judges review the works with quips and comments that draw the audience in as active participants in the event.

Oxford will put their writers on the line when the Death Match tour arrives Oct. 13. The event has travelled around the world and will make it’s first stop ever in Mississippi.

We take as a point of pride the literary influence of the region.  Many places are important in American literature but this area works not only to celebrate our history but ensure that the community and University continue to add to the list of literary figures linked to Oxford.

If you want to know why it is important to keep chumming the waters waiting for the next literary land shark to clamp down on the hills, buildings, and people look at this event. People use their visual sense to evaluate what is important. We often “hear” more with our eyes than we do with our ears.

An event of this nature adds the visual element to the writers who teach at the University, call our community home, and the spaces that host our events.  The charm, personality, and uniqueness of our people and place which make use stand out. Transforming a reading into a death match may drip of sensationalism but the goal is to introduce the wider audience to literature.

The Death match is the cliff notes of cultural events so as long as the participant understand that they are taking part in an experience to help introduce them to writers they are not empty mental calories.  The event allows both the writer and the audience to stretch and enjoy words before getting down to the serious task of finding their own literary path.

Learn more about Literary Death Match and watch videos of prior events on their website;  Tickets are on sale now for the Oct 13th event in Oxford through the Arts Council at

Wayne Andrews is executive director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.