Professional wrestling, meet literature. Literature, meet professional wrestling. Two writers don wrestling masks, take their seats across from one another at typewriters, and wait for the referee to issue a writing prompt.
Welcome to Lucha Libro, a Peruvian marriage of writing and theatricality. On Saturday night, April 19, the literary throw down came to St. Petersburg’s The Bends bar.
Cole Bellamy, an English professor at St. Leo University, served as the evening’s referee. Holding a tattered copy of Moby Dick, he chose a word around which the writers would base their stories.
The first contestants had ten minutes to type a story based on the word “substance” while the audience, in the true spirit of professional wrestling, heckled them with writing-themed insults:
“Y-o-u-APOSTROPHE-r-e, not y-o-u-r!”
“Don’t quit your day job!”
At the end of ten minutes, the audience counted down along with Bellamy. The writers stood and read their work. Based on audience response, the referee chose a winner to proceed to the next round.
In Peru, the ultimate winner receives a publishing contract. Saturday night at The Bends, the winner received the satisfaction of winning.
Keep St. Pete Lit sponsored the event. President and co-founder Maureen McDole called the event “organized mayhem” and praised Bellamy for bringing the idea to Keep St. Pete Lit and agreeing to referee.
“It’s an electric feeling to see writers in costumes coming up with stories off the top of their heads,” McDole said. “It really showcased the diverse creative writing talent we have in Tampa Bay. We hope to make this a regular event.”
McDole told the Gabber she plans to hold the next Lucha Libro in Gulfport.
Contact Cathy Salustri at CathySalustri@theGabber.com.