"The first-ever Compliment Deathmatch happened at the National Poetry Slam in 2017. It was started by RJ Walker, who is a poet in Salt Lake City. It was basically the most beloved event of Nationals that year, just because it brought so much joy. It's just people complimenting other people," said Havens. She added that bringing the Death Match concept, which is already being replicated nationwide, to Boise was an easy sell.
The inaugural Boise Compliment Deathmatch will go down at Even Stevens from 6:30-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, and costs $3 per person. It will showcase eight competing poets, signed up on a first-come, first-served basis and randomly paired up to sling their best compliments. Their numbers will be slowly whittled down, with winners determined by audience applause, until just one is left standing. Each bracket will include three rounds, with the poet who takes two of three declared the victor.
"There's a chance that they might know the other person, there's a chance they might not. And so it's really going to be all about whether people decide to write compliments in advance or, like, improvise it," Havens said.
Havens expects plenty of poets to turn out for the contest, so latecomers may still get a chance at complimenting in a few practice rounds leading up to the match. The audience will get to join in the fun, too, by dropping their own compliments in a jar that Havens will read from throughout the night.
The winner will claim both the title of The Kindest Creature of Boise and a gift certificate to Goody's Soda Fountain in Hyde Park, good for two ice cream sundaes just in time for Valentine's Day. And if things go well, local poets (and positive thinkers) can look forward to many more deathmatches to come.
In the meantime, check out this footage of the NPS 2017 Deathmatch.