Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reflections on the first section of The Big Smoke

 [The Big Smoke reading group

The first section of The Big Smoke gives us some sense of Jack Johnson, this intelligent, eloquent, and fascinating historical figure, and we also get a sense of the poet Adrian Matejka who constructs the view of Johnson for us.

 Beyond "Battle Royal," "The Manly Art of Self-Defense," "Hurt Business," and "Fisticuffs" what poem from the first section of The Big Smoke caught your attention and why?

34 comments:

Evan Townzen said...

The poem that stood out to me was "Blues His Sweetie Gives to Me" It was mediocre, until he talked about "the Crafty Texan" whooping up on him and then letting him stay with him. Well, on the floor. I think it is interesting because it shows the dynamic that if you are not winning in a sport like boxing the money is not very nice. It got even more interesting when the author gave the title meaning, saying that he got kicked out when Frank's "no-good wife" came back home in the middle of the night.

Robert F said...

"The Shadow Knows" really stuck out to me because it presents black people and their need to flaunt their material things. These same desires to flaunt materials allows for other races to see us in a certain light (or lack there of) that black people seem to want so bad.
The end of the poem was empowering in a sense. The author said, "When we rise up, the whole Negro race rises up with us". We attempt to be in the spotlight not only for ourselves, but the rest of our people and I feel like that is really important us because of history. We always feel the need to feel equal to our white counterparts.
This is why the poem stuck out to me.
-Robert F.

Elijah Person said...

In my oppinion, the poem Hurt Business's as the most appealing. I love stories and that is what I was given. The author was able to show us how Johnson's grandmother influenced him to be who he is today. It is like a tribute to the strong parental figures who shape today's youth in a positive way.

Travon Wilson said...

The poem that caught my eye is " The Shadow Knows" throughout the whole poem the shadow was basically telling Joe what he wanted out of life really he wanted the heavyweight title. He said " When we rise up, the whole Negro race rises up with us".

ricky wells said...

In the poem "Race Relations" Jack Johnson sees threw the white mans smile. With the white man's anvil cheeks and his "say trust me" crooked smile. Johnson is also saying a man should be judged by if he's a man or not, but not by his race.

Ricky Wells

J.Shaw said...

"Blues His Sweetie Gives to Me", is one of my favorite poems in the first section of our reading due to the many analogies used that relate boxing to a woman. "In the ring, Frank followed me like I was the one who ran off with his wife." I feel as though the narrator connects boxing with women because of the importance women have to men, just like the importance boxing has with the men talked about. This poem shows a great level of creativity as well as a clever sense of humor making it catch my attention the most out of all the others.

Gerrell Lewis said...

I choose the poem "Prize Fighter" on page 16. I really appreciate this one because it sound like a rap song. His metaphors really catch my eye such as "I'm like an automobile in the ring. My fist work like cranked up engines. I've got the kind of elasticity other fighters dream about after I put them to sleep on the canvas." This is pure the genius. Sounds like he has been rapping for years. Also I like the way he relates himself to horses. He brings out how they are hard workers and also majestic creatures.

Gerrell Lewis
GAME
SiUE

Anonymous said...

Lucas Reincke said...

To me, "The Shadow Knows" really stuck out to me, because of how forward and ambitious the speaker's desires were. He wanted for blacks to be able to stand tall, and obtain every wish, win every award, and accomplish every feat that they had not before. The narrator, I feel, was asking his audience to be bold and to stand up for themselves and to take what they feel is there's. It tells individuals to set an examples for not only the African American race, but all other ethnicities that do not see fair and equal treatment compared to their white counterparts.

Nicholas M. said...

"The Manly Art of Self-Defense," was a poem that I really enjoyed. It was about a young fighter (Johnson) learning from an experienced opponent/instructor (Joe). Aside from learning how to become a better fighter, Johnson also picked up on an important life lesson in the process. He described Joe as having a mediocre appearance. Someone who didn't look like a "prize" fighter. What Johnson realized is that despite how people appear on the outside, you should not judge them.

Rubin Logan said...

"The Shadow Knows" is a poem other than the assigned that I read and that really caught my attention. It explains how the negro race can be so materialistic and flashy. How we want to rise to the top and look good at the same time. The one thing that stood out the most is when it said , "When we rise up, the whole Negro race rises up with us." This is true because when Obama became president, the black community felt as if we were rising and progressing as a whole.
-Rubin L.

Xavier Morrison- Wallace said...

"Prize Fighter" really reminded me of modern day boxing. The tone of the poem seemed really cocky. In the beginning of the poem, the person being depicted always wanted something faster and willing to drop what he loved, and has possibly been riding for years, for something better. Unlike some of the other poems, which were self- motivating, the words in this one seemed to be more braggy like subtle smack talk. And at the end of the poem, the phrase "my prize fighting cohorts are decidedly dissatisfied by my presence" refers to other fighters like him.

Isaiah Person said...

The Poem that stood out the most to me was "Hurt Business" It stood out because it portrayed a life style that is still prominent in today's world.

Wole A said...

The poem that stuck out to me the most was "The Shadow Knows". I think about how the African American community till this day still portray the actions that were mentioned in the poem. Having a large collection of material things allows a person to feel important or feel that they are worthy of something greater. This poem really depicted what material wealth can do to a person.

jingolder said...

A poem that stood out to me was "Alias." I found the short and choppy sentence structure very intriguing, and I also found the message interesting. Each stanza seemed to represent the nicknames that different people in his life had for him. His childhood brought more endearing nicknames. White people had more condescending and racist nicknames for him. And when he became the champion, everyone referred to him as some sort of champion.

-John H.

Xavier Robinson said...

The poem that stood out to me was"Cannibalism." It has a different tone than the rest of the poems. It refers to how white people would say they black people would kill and eat each other, but it was the police man that were brutally killing black families.

Darien Wilson said...

The poem that stuck out to me the most was "Shadow Boxing". It stuck out to me because he talks a little about his determination and how he could be getting caught in the allures of life like most people, but his drive for greatness is stronger than the temptations of life.

Trion T. said...

"The Shadow Knows" was one that I particularly liked. What was said in this poem is almost the embodiment of what I want to do in life and why. I want so much for myself that sometimes it just seems outright selfish. But I know better, I know that it isn't wrong to want to be a doctor, I would definitely be the first in my family to go so high, and not have to worry about all the things my parents did. I want to do things different and not fit into any kind of stereotype that would try to bring me down. That's why I love this poem so much.

Deandre Howard said...

The poem that stood out to me the most was "Fisticuffs". I find it very interesting on where the character finds inspiration to be a better fighter. He doesn't take the though of pain or becoming better as a fighter.

He takes inspiration from emotional experience--in this case--from his old love. It kindle this astute analogy between broken relationships and fallen fighters. It makes the poem all that more interesting.

DeAndre H.

Jamal Sims said...

The poem that I found fascinating was the 'Battle Royal". The torture and trials the bear suffered were very similar to the struggles faced by the black men. The fact that they had to fight their fellow men to death for food was very disheartening and eye opening.

Jeremiah Blackburn said...

The poem that stood out to me was "Shadow Boxing". Matejka shows the internal battle that Jack Johnson experienced at this point in his life. Johnson's work ethic is shown in the middle of the poem where he mentions the struggle of boxing and working to pay the bills. At the end, the shadow replies back as if Johnson's conscience is telling him that all his hard work will be paid off.

Isaiah Blackburn said...

The poem that stood out to me was "The Shadow Knows" because the author discusses Jack Johnson's desire to be rich and famous. The thing that separates Johnson's desire to succeed from an average person is his self-determination to make it a reality. At the end of the poem, the author does express how Johnson felt that his success was also the success of the race, but he also expresses a feeling of solitude, "when we get to the top, it's just us. No use for Negroes then, not even ourselves." The author brings up a very valid point that all of us, as successful minority students, can relate to. The more success you have, the less likely you are to see someone that looks like you. The last line of the poem is the one that stood out to me the most because I believe Johnson now viewed himself and his social status as two different things.

Rodrick Robins said...

The poem "Cannibalism" caught my attention the most out of all the poems in section one for a couple reasons. Firstly, the title made me want to read it because cannibalism is such a bizarre concept in our society. Secondly, once I started reading it I was in a stat of confusion because I didn't exactly 100% understand the topic. The poem challenged me to dig deeper and that's why it caught my attention the most.

Phillip Goens said...

To me "The Shadow Knows" is the most important, because the poem is telling you all the things you really want. The "shadow" represents the inner you and the desires that you want. Everyone has this, its the hope and happiness that you wish for.

People work their whole lives to get the things their shadow wants, and this is what Jack Johnson wanted.

Barry Ford said...

A poem that really caught my eye is "The Shadow Knows". This poem expresses how black people want to show off materialistic things. The end gets more empowering by saying, "When we rise up, the whole Negro race rises up with us".

Quentin wailson said...

"The Shadow Knows" is my favorite because black need to realize that money isn't every thing and we shouldn't try to buy happiness with materialistic items. That's a problem for black people now-a-days. We have still not moved passed this phase.

Dross84 said...

The poem that stood out most to me was "Prize Fighter" because I really like how he started it off by talking about horses making it seem like he was prepared to compare himself to one then flipped the script and compared himself to a car engine. I feel like he should have compared himself to the horse because the horse is more natural like he is in the ring and the car is un natural and takes away from nature in a way in my opinion.
-Devon Ross

J.D. Staples said...

The poem "Alias" really intrigued me because it exemplifies the sociological term of naming or the name game. I find it humorous how we play the name game with celebrities, other peoples as well as ourselves. A good few examples are "King James", the nickname of Lebron, as well as the common nick names such as lil man, pookie, biggie, champ, princess, and baby girl. Although, these names aren't offensive as the names given to Jack Johnson, but they still give meaning to who we are as people or who we would like to be.

Christian Watts said...

Fistcuffs really caught my attention because of how he related boxing to black woman. Due to his experiences with black woman he was able to release his emotion through boxing. However the fact that he's never had a good experience with black woman also catches my eye because usually I hear that from black women.
Christian

Joshua Bowens said...

The poem "Hurt Business" gives imagery throughout the entire poem. Starting with the dialect between his grandmother and him. The fight scene gives definition to the entire poem and its a mere mockery to how Johnson became who he was.

Jelani Brown said...

Whereas hurt business was not my favorite, it caught my attention because for the first time it showed how Arthur would have rather stayed in school than do useless fights. He was still a boy when the men gave him beatings, but he always put up a fight while regretting fighting in the first place

Tyler Johnson said...

The poem Prize Fighter I found quite compelling. The lyrical description of Jack's fighting skills crafted a very intricate image of him. It portrayed him as grandiose with much poetic justice.

Jordan Hardman said...

The one that stood out the most to me was "Cannibalism." It showed what actually went on during his time. Colored people were being killed for no reason. and no one could do anything about it. They were considered a threat to those who were dead the sheriffs would say, although everyone knew that they just didn't want any black people around.

_Jordan H.

John Kriha said...

The poem that stood out most to me was "The Shadow Knows". Johnson talks about his drive to not only advance him self in society but to change the image of the "negro". He feels that becoming heavyweight champion will change the image of the black male from low slave to the top of chain. Also in the end he states that when he gets to the top the term "negro" will no longer exist because they will be known as equals.

Nicholas Rawls said...

It's hard to pick beyond these poems as "Hurt Business". Most people in that situation would stick with what they know and not understand the difference between prizefighting and fighting for one's life. This poem caught my attention because it shows that difference. There's no point, in my opinion, in sticking to certain rules in situations where it's life or death. Sometimes all the stops have to be pulled.

-Nicholas Rawls