Them's Fightin' Words

Portland writers talk smack before Literary Death Match.

pitting four established local writers in a battle of words and wit

Slugging it out in this week's bout is Live Wire! radio show house poet Scott Poole, journalist Fiona McCann, novelist G. Xavier Robillard (Captain Freedom: A Superhero's Quest for Truth, Justice and the Celebrity He So Richly Deserves) and novelist/memoirist Cheryl Strayed (Wild). Making sure it's anything but a good clean fight will be judges Kevin Sampsell, Rozz Rezabek and Courtenay Hameister.  

In anticipation of the big event, WW asked the Death Matchers a few important questions about the verbal brawl.

WW: What is your ring name?

G. Xavier Robillard:
Scott Poole:
Fiona McCann:
Cheryl Strayed:

How are you preparing yourself for battle?

Robillard: Whenever I'm stressed for any reason, my body's immune system goes on the offensive and attacks itself. The morning after I was invited to participate in this LDM my mouth was rotten with canker soars. Like a minefield. Now I'm nursing a sore shoulder, lockjaw, and hope to slip into a brief but restorative coma before the bout.
Also, I'm polishing my skull scar.
What nobody can prepare for is the surprise final round of the LDM, if you're lucky enough to make it that far. It usually involves some whimsical physical challenge, like unpitting an olive with your cleavage, and I'm uncoordinated and have no sense of rhythm. Hence the skull scar.
Poole: First, I put on my lit-fighting underwear, the ones with the picture of Emily Dickenson on the crotch. Then I drink a shot of whiskey and 73 cups of coffee. Then without haste, I drive to the Literary Death Match arena at 130mph on a rocket powered tricycle named Brenda.
McCann: One does not prepare. One takes even oneself by surprise.
Strayed: Fifty jumping jacks every morning. A bottle of good pinot every night.

What is your pre-fight diet?

Robillard: These days I've been imbibing the "Steampunk Speedball," which as everyone knows is that heady mixture of absinthe and the vapours* collected from the offgassing plastic lawn furniture sold in the upper level of the Hawthorne Fred Meyer.
*the drink isn't prepared correctly if the recipe spells it vapor.
Poole: Other LDM competitors. And if that can't be arranged, snacks stolen from their purses.
McCann: Lolcats. I can has magically delicious!
Strayed: Kale. Quinoa. Water tinted with the menstrual blood of a virgin.

What is your fighting strategy?

Robillard: When I face my enemies in the pit I will embody the spirit of the modern Republican Party: accidentally burn the place down and call it victory.
Poole: 1.Lie. 2.Cheat. 3.Gamble 4. Cry. 5. Wet Pants. 6. Take undue credit.
McCann: Never go to bed angry.
Strayed: In the words of Winston Churchill: "Never, never, never give up."

Which competitor do you consider your greatest threat?


Any last fighting words?

Robillard: I'd like to quote convicted gambler/baseball enthusiast Pete Rose, who said, "I'm just like everybody else. I have two arms, two legs and four-thousand hits."
Poole: As the philospher Chewbacca once said, "Hmmmmwwhhhheeewwhhhhmmmmmmwwwhhhheee."
McCann: Ask me hoop.
Strayed: Though I'm the only competitor who hasn't slept with all three of the judges (at the same time), I'm confident I'll take the day.

SEE IT: Literary Death Match will be held at Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate Ave., 286-9449, 8 pm, Thursday Sept. 8. $6 advance, $10 day of event.  

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