Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Reflections on the second section of The Big Smoke

 [The Big Smoke reading group

The second section of The Big Smoke gave us even more to consider. So we're curious what you thought. Beyond only the poems we already responded to -- “Sporting Life,” “Chicken & Other Stereotypes,"
Mouth Fighting," "Cooking Lessons”-- what was one idea or topic or aspects of the poems did you find yourself really concentrating on and returning to as you read the second section of the book? Why did you linger on that point?

30 comments:

Joshua Bowens said...

I really found myself concentrating on how Adrian Matejka portrays Jack Johnson to be in dialect. Jack Johnson comes off as a noble fighter with a great sense of pride, then we take a look at him out of the lime light. Jack Johnson is a cocky, arrogant, egocentric, bigger than life boxer.He allows the money and fame to go to his head. He thinks that treating woman with little respect is okay and its not.I lingered on this point because Adrian Matejka does a great job making it seem like Jack Johnson is the great guy, but then has readers thinking is he really?

Ricky Wells said...

As read the poems from Big Smoke i'v realize that some of the poems are telling how Jack Johnson was a bad man outside of the ring like. I thought that the poems would praise him and talk about his fights.



Ricky Wells

MyVampire15 said...

Honestly, this book of poems about Jack Johnson, sound like black men today. What I mean by this is that when black men come into wealth, they tend to forget who they really are and begin to act like someone their not. Now, Jack Johnson may have not been like this but from what I have read, it seems pretty much the same as black men today.

Evan Townzen said...

The aspect that got me thinking the hardest was the dynamic of Hattie and Belle. The author had the letters to Belle from Hattie and in the letters it was made very clear that Hattie is a gold digger. I think the main message was that Jack obviously is messed up, but the reason he does not hit Hattie is ironically because he knows she just wants his money. With Belle though, he is not afraid to be himself. He hits her because he wants to make her better and that shows just how messed up he really is.

Robert F said...

What stuck out to me was a black man being discriminated against while driving. Particularly because I have experienced a similar situation because I was in a predominantly white neighborhood at later hours. Being black while driving is real and we experience more than many would expect. Cops usually are not as blatant as the racism cop in "Chicken & Other Stereotypes", but they sure do seem to consider race before taking action. I feel like many people do not know they judging by skin tone, but it happens subconsciously.

Robert F.

Deonte Young said...

What i found interesting about Jack Johnson life is that he had the mentality of being better then everyone else which was a good thing to have, but he somewhat does remind me of current day athletes who do things that can be shameful that people let go.

Isaiah Person said...

I noticed mostly the poems tell the good of Jock Johnson. But it also tells some bad, like him hitting Belle.

Elijah Person said...

I disagree with how Jack Johnson thinks he can treat our women anyway he wants to. I couldn't imagine disrespecting a woman who may bear my child or who means something to me. Even though woman are perceived as weak and emotional being, guess who would become extinct without them.....men. So why would you disrespect them?

Christian Watts said...

Something that stuck out to me was characteristics. The main one I will focus on is strength. Even though in each poem every individual endured a hardship for example racial barriers or bad relationships, they didn't give up. They may have gotten angry or bitter like many, but they continued to press their way. Their strength is admirable, because we can take from it and do even better with the hardships we experience such as racism, broken friendships/relationships, and finances.

Isaiah Blackburn said...

Adrian Matejka seems to be presenting Jack Johnson from two different perspectives. Inside the ring, he is the unprecedented heavyweight champion. Although some of his techniques may seem unorthodox, like in "Mouth Fighting," it still produces good results. Outside of the ring, however, Johnson doesn't seem to have any self-discipline or control which Matejka illustrates in "Sporting Life." Since everything is luck and perspective, why should I try to moral and just?

John Hanfelder said...

I think that the author makes the main character out to be an arrogant person, and it sticks with you as you read the poems. Although he may have fame and happiness with his victory as a boxer, he definitely has some life issues and needs to focus more on his personality outside of the ring. I can't really look past that aspect.

Jordan Hardman said...

The one thing that would make me come back and stay interested is trying to find out what he would go through next. In every poem he had to overcome a different obstacle and he eventually did. He did have some problems but he still had a great mind set.

Rubin Logan said...

Jack Johnson reminds me of myself with his im better than everyone else mentality, but from The poems he seem like black men today in both a good and bad way.
-Rubin L.

Wole A said...

I started focusing on how the book depicts Jack Johnson as both a Protagonist and an Antagonist.

Gerrell Lewis said...

Adrian Matejka really does a great job on impliying Jack Johnson egotistical and concieted lifestyle; in other being a difficult person to deal with thinking they know it all because they have money in their pocket. Thinking he can't be touched because nobody can beat him. All of the poems, relate him boasting about something he has done, he can do or, what he has (materially).

Gerrell Lewis
SIUE/GAME

Xavier Morrison- Wallace said...

One aspect about the book as a whole is that it seems not to be a random assortment of poems about Jack Johnson. The poems seem to go in chronological order that Adrian Matejka uses to detail significant events in Jack Johnson's life.

John Kriha said...

In the second section I feel as if Matejka is stepping outside of physical aspects of boxing to show what other components make up the life of a prize fighter. Mouth fighter showed how mentally attacking an opponent could have just as great of an effect on a fight as doing so physically. And sporting life touched on the fighters new lifestyle of luxury after becoming a prize fighter. In both cases we see a character change in Johnson.

Quentin Wilson said...

the most interesting thing to me is how Jack was considered a great fighter inside the ring, but a bad person out the ring. I assumed that he was good guy until I read more of the second section of the book. The more i hear about his life outside the ring the more i question him as a person

Jeremiah Blackburn said...

During these poems I thought most about the arrogance Jack Johnson shows and how it relates to athletes today. In some of the readings Johnson felt like he was entitle to certain privileges because of his boxing status. Like some professional athletes, he thought some of the things he did would be overlooked if he paid his way out of them.

Trion T. said...

I liked shadow boxing because I can relate to his affections for his mother. I truly feel and know that there are a lot of opportunities that I would have missed out on if it were not for my mom. She is truly the reason that I have such ambitious goals to be a doctor and it is her faith in me that keeps me going.

Anonymous said...

Lucas Reincke said...

I saw strength and perseverance really exemplified, especially in the poem, "Chicken and Other Stereotypes" because of how this man of color took all of this verbal abuse from this officer. He used the officer's put-downs as fuel for his desire to break boundaries and show that race should not be a factor in social structure.

Deandre Howard said...

I Found myself thinking back on Jack Johnson's motivation for becoming a better fighter, his old love interest--Clara. How an emotional pain could inspire him to make a punch that can give such another a similar pain interests me. Jack was so connected to her that her betrayal and rejection were beyond what mere words were only capable of describing and a simple analogy to his fighting would suffice?

-DeAndre H.

Nicholas M. said...

Racial stereotypes was the main topic of "Chicken & Other Stereotypes," that I found myself really concentrating on. Mainly because much of what Johnson went through in the poem still happens today.

Ta'Mara Woodson said...

One thing that stuck out to me was Jack Johnson. He sort of portrays the African American male in society today and how money and wealth changes them. He's not exactly like this but similar. They forget where they started and take on another personality that is of someone they're not.

Jelani Brown said...

One specific aspect of the poems that got to me was separation between beast and human. I come back to this because beasts are wild and humans tend to be civilized, but in the poems there were descriptions of how said civilized humans made other humans into beasts by threatening their lives for their own entertainment. Seeing these actions I wonder who the real beast is in that situation.

Nicholas Rawls said...

I always found myself always concentrating on the discrimination of Jack Johnson, because it always related to today. Back then it was bad, but today, it has gotten to the point where blacks discriminate against each other. From the moment I walked in a Dollar Tree one day I was followed by people of my own race, suspecting that I stole something. Even confronted even after I put the item back. - Nicholas Rawls

Barry Ford said...

In several poems in the second section, the aspect of love comes up. This is interesting because we get to see a different side of Jack.

Phillip Goens said...

In this section of stories the one that really impacted me was “Cooking Lessons”. This poem made me think about today’s society of powerful men, not just black men. The face that men think they can control a women with the idea of a lifestyle, some girls want that, and some don’t mind it. The thing is, that there is a limit to what you can do and say. In that poem the things Jack Johnson had done was going across the line. I was stuck on this poem because I can imagine tons of that happening in todays world, especially with athletes. There are tons of football, basketball, hockey, soccer, baseball, tennis, and golf people that are making an unbelievable amount of money. Who knows the women they are attracting with this lifestyle, the capturing them in the lifestyle. Its like holding someone agents their will, to say and do thing, its wrong. I get that they maybe great at what they do, and everybody says yes to anything they do, but they need to learn what no is. I’m not just coming at the sports people, there could be some actors, or musician in this same, position of trapping women.

Rodrick Robins said...

I found myself focusing on race relations between people of the same race a lot throughout the first and second section. Its easy to see how two people of different races and class divisions relate to each other, but when I started looking deeper into how people of the same race interact I was surprised at the complexity.

Tyler Johnson said...

The Big Smoke incited a very philosophical response from me. I assumed the prize fighter would be an embodiment of nobility and honor like some Hollywood film, yet Jack is a very different person. He is very egotistical and would and is the very opposite of a glowing positive role model. He exhibits many of the negative and gritty traits of boxers and athletes in general, and this was a surprise of sorts from this story.