Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Big Smoke: "Equality"

[The Big Smoke reading group

“Equality” is the first poem that we cover in this third section of poems, “Knee on the Canvas”, in The Big Smoke. As the title of the section suggests, Adrian Matejka paints a Jack Johnson that is more vulnerable than than in the previous sections.

In “Equality,” Jack Johnson is car racing against Polish boxer Stanley Ketchel. Throughout the volume, we hear mention of Johnson and his cars, one of the luxuries he was fond of indulging.
The poem reveals Johnson’s sometimes dangerous competitive spirit.

But what about you: what stood out to you about the poem? Why?

13 comments:

Elijah Person said...

Metekja's poem described how eager Johnson and Ketchel were to race each other, and how they both expected to beat the other. You can also see the power that people with money have when the police don't even bother to stop such dangerous acts from occuring in their face. The poem shows just how competitive Johnson really is.

jingolder said...

What stood out to me about the poem was exactly what I'm being asked about; his dangerous and competitive spirit. It is interesting to see how what some might call a competitive, yet destructive personality can lead someone into a career in boxing and a car racing hobby. One can only imagine what other dangerous, yet competitive hobbies Johnson and others with his personality type had. These hobbies and careers seem taboo to most of us, but they seem to be natural to people like Johnson.

Jelani Brown said...

Something that stood out to me in this poem was the police force and their lack of intervention. This stood out to me because Matejka described them as loitering by their bikes meaning they had time to stop them, but they chose not to; this stood out to me because police officers are supposed to be watching over people to protect them from dangerous things such as racing, yet in this poem they just ignored them even though it was a dangerous activity.

John Kriha said...

what stood out the most to me was Johnson's cocky and competitive spirit. In the poem Johnson points out all the flaws in Ketchel's vehicle while bragging about his own. Johnson not only has to be the best in the ring but he has to be the best all around even in a hobby such as racing.

Tyler Johnson said...

Jack Johnson and his drive and competitive nature continuously lead him to be increasingly reckless. His striving to be above others detracts from his character. In Equality, he compares himself to Ketchel and sizes him up, later trying to best him and prove his superiority in a street race, with the authorities doing nothing to intervene, which profoundly displays the power Jack's status has bestowed. This power no doubt correlates with his personality.

Xavier Morrison- Wallace said...

The part of the poem that stood out to me was of how the title related to the text. What could the name "Equality" have to do with a one-on-one car race where there could only be one winner? Maybe the title was referring to there equal state of minds. Both were racing to beat the other. The title and what goes on in the poem itself are opposites of each other. Maybe the name of the title is there for sarcasm, and joking how they can't be equal.

Gerrell Lewis said...

Matejka really gives a prime example of Jack johnson urge of beating someone even though it was boxing showing his competive live style. Him and the other character both had money so I'm sure they didnt mind running there car. Also, they didnt even mind the police.

Isaiah Blackburn said...

I think Jack Johnson is just obsessed with winning. He's extremely arrogant and his winning just gives him a bigger ego. In "Equality," Matejka writes, "the day Jack Johnson doesn't go faster than another man is the day you should plug your ears because the trumpets are coming directly." This is an allusion to the second coming of Jesus in the Book of Revelations. Victory is life for him and without it he's nothing.

Trion T. said...

What stood out to me was how over confident he was. I personally prefer humility instead of over-confidence. It befuddles me when ever I come across people who are that confident to that extent, thinking that there is no possible way for them to lose. It definitely makes it hard to want to see them win. But it is probably this confidence that has allowed Johnson to make this far in life.

MyVampire15 said...

So, the poem starts like any other scene in a movie. Two guys in their cars, painted different colors for different purposes, and them one of the guys gives the other driver the idea of a race. This sounds like the typical rich person to either show-off their car or to prove who is the best between the two.

Jordan Hardman said...

What stood out to me the most was that the police did not intervene, I think by equality they didn't mean between race. They meant equality between the rich and the poor. If it was 2 poorer people racing or even seen in those cars then they most likely would have been pulled over.

_Jordan H.

Rubin Logan said...

Johnson trash talks Ketchels car as we talked about last week. He blows the smoke as a sign to intimidate, but Johnson thinks he is the best and can not be beat. That is what stood out to me the most, his competitive but yet so sure of a spirit that he was not to be beat. His confidence helps him in all ways even racing.

Nicholas Rawls said...

What stood out to me was Johnson's competitive spirit. This is mainly in part that I remember hearing about something that someone said that men are born competitive. Just like Johnson, there is a part of me that can't stand to have someone better than me.
- Nicholas Rawls