Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Big Smoke: "Sporting Life"

[The Big Smoke reading group]

Adrian Matejka opens the second section of The Big Smoke with the poem “Sporting Life.” This poem is the second where the heavyweight boxing champion is an evident professional prize fighter. The title, “Sporting Life,” is a reference to gambling in sports (e.g. boxing, dog and horse racing, etc) as well as a type of lifestyle (what we’d call “balling” today).

The poem reveals Johnson’s attentiveness to language, as he notes “Two small words, if & suppose,/ & nobody can explain them.” More accurately, the poem reveals Matejka’s interest in how attentive Johnson was to language and wordplay.

What were you inclined to pay attention to regarding language or wordplay in this poem?

--Jeremiah Carter and Howard Rambsy II

15 comments:

Elijah Person said...

I think that Johnson has taken those words and comprehended them as signs of weakness. If you say "if and suppose" then you haven't done what ever it is you are supposing. In a way, Johnson is telling everyone to be better, and persue the things you are saying "if and suppose" to. Be stronger and you won't have to look back at life with "if and suppose"

John Kriha said...

I feel that the words "If" and "Suppose" have no meaning to Johnson. The message Johnson is sending, is to do whatever you are saying "if" and "suppose" to because life is short and nothing is guaranteed. This appears to be the result of his new lifestyle as an prize fighter.

Nicholas Rawls said...

I became inclined to pay attention to how Adrian describes luck in this poem as he refers to hypothetical situations that can supposedly happen or if it can happen for that matter. Situations where a man would often be killed lives and where a man would often live be killed. It's luck... but then again, it is also ironic upon thought.
On a side note, I ended up looking up certain things that would not usually be known such as a "Thomas Flyer engine or a scaffold.
- Nicholas Rawls

Jelani Brown said...

The thing that caught my attention that Matejka said were two small words if and suppose. Although he said these words were small, I find that terms "if and suppose" dress up a sentence to predict the future, yet one will never be able to predict the future

jingolder said...

Johnson seemed to view the words "if and suppose" as terms of weakness. As a boxer, and a black man, he couldn't use these terms a lot. Things had to be definite and done well for him to succeed.

Phillip Goens said...

Adrian Matejka had used those two words "if and suppose" to look down upon. He states that you get what you want in the world. What i got form that section is that, if you work hard enough, you can achieve things. Mateika also takes about lucky, how some people get when they are in bad situation.

Joshua Bowens said...

I believe Adrian Matejka is mimicking the two words "If" and suppose". He's saying people are so caught up with term if.. or suppose this.. it would be this...When in actuality he's saying everything was pre-destined before we were even born. Sometime things happen with no explanation and that in itself is just luck!

Isaiah Blackburn said...

Johnson likes to live in the moment and enjoys the things that can be seen and are real. He does not consider theoretical conclusions because he believes in predicting future events. He believes that the words "if" and "suppose" are meaningless because they can never become an absolute fact. This idea is reflected at the end of the poem where Matejka writes, "it's all luck and perspective: pleasure is both to me."

Trion T. said...

While I didn't quite get the comparisons, I did catch on to the negative connotation that Matejka associated with "if" and "suppose." I believe that he was implying that when you use these terms in the present tense rather than past tense. And when you use it this way, it shows that you are a fickle person who can't make up their own mind. He basically wants people to make up their mind about something and stick with it.

Xavier Morrison- Wallace said...

In the poem, the words "If" and "Suppose" are used to describe luck and chaos. I saw the symbolism in words and language. the words "if & suppose" are used to say what might happen in the future. Nobody can explain them as mentioned in the poem because it hasn't happened yet. The language of the poem itself explains those "two small words" by saying that they are unexplainable because we can't predict the probability of what might happen.

Gerrell Lewis said...

Matejka elaborates on "If & Suppose" in this particular poem. He says"We get in this world what we're going to get."He means that when people say if and suppose, the live their lives off of fantasies they should or wanted to pursue. When in reality, life is all that you make it. Also, I think Adrian was talking from a bible perspective too because he referred to how people face death and how they encounter different outcomes.

Gerrell Lewis
SIUE
GAME

MyVampire15 said...

This poem is very confusing to me. According to the narrator, "if & suppose" are two words that are meaningless to himself but is confusing to others. I guess that "if & suppose" are offensive to Johnson because to him, this means that he is not capable to do something even though he knows that he can prove them wrong.

Tyler Johnson said...

The words represent uncertainty, insecurity, and fear. This is what Jack Johnson cannot allow to intertwine with his persona and his image.

Jordan Hardman said...

The words if and suppose are seen as the worst things to ever say in that moment. He basically suggests that you are showing a weakness if you were to use those 2 words so it is highly frowned upon.

_Jordan H.

Rubin Logan said...

The words "if and suppose" are words that some people live with. They always dwell in the past and Johnson wants to instead live life because anything can happen life itself is not guaranteed so whatever happens deal with it and make the best out of it.
Rubin L.