Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Big Smoke: “Mouth Fighting”


[The Big Smoke reading group]

Like many of the poems in Adrian Matejka's The Big Smoke, Jack Johnson delivers a personal description of his fighting style. In “Mouth Fighting,” however, this description of his unique style is not of a physical quality (as the title may or may not suggest). Mouth fighting, in this case, refers to trash talk (a trait that is evident in many great black athletes of the past and present).

Jack Johnson’s trash talking is “civilized” with rules. “A civilized/mouth fight is about making a fighter wild/& as soon as I can tell he's listening,/I know I've won.” The irony is layered as there may be some white fighters or fans who may consider trash taking to be uncivilized.

What did you think on most regarding "Mouth Fighting," and why?  That is, what captured your attention most concerning the poem's main themes or the use of language in the poem, and why did that capture your attention?


12 comments:

Elijah Person said...

Johnson uses mouth fighting to break down his competitors. By talking down upon his competitor, he distracts them from the fight so that he can win. Who can focus when them are wrapped up in what someone is saying.instead of what they are doing.

Phillip Goens said...

I think that this poem was very intriguing because Jack Johnson was known for his words. He talked a lot about people and he talked very inappropriate about people. He got into a lot of people’s heads, with all of the big talk. This poem talking about “mouth fighting” which is what he did a lot of; he challenged people with his words and his fighting. Jack Johnson backed up his trash talking. In this poem it said, “That’s why the mouth is the most devastating weapon” this quote means a lot, it the opposite of saying “words will never hurt me” because that not true to a certain point. Words can do a lot to someone mentally and emotionally to someone. Adrian Matejka also knows how strong Jack Johnson’s words are, and how win physically and emotionally.

Gerrell Lewis said...

In this poem, Matejka is elaborating on the art of trash talking of boxers are at least what Jack Johnson does to get under their skin. Due to the fact that Johnson was the first "Black Heavyweight Champion" he had to be very aggressive and very outgoing. I like when Matejka say's "How is a fighter supposed to think about defensing when he's trying to get at me by whatever means", showing that Jack Johnson use to beat fighters just because he could get them out of their comfort zone.

Gerrell Lewis
SIUE/GAME

John Kriha said...

I think Johnson is letting his audience know there is more to boxing than just physically beating down his opponent. Mouth fighting suggests that he has his opponents beat long before the match if he can get in their head and break them down mentally. The theme of this passage is that you can never achieve your full potential if you are letting the words of others affect your performance.

Xavier Morrison- Wallace said...

Trash talking is the pre-game, the fight before the main event. When you break a person down mentally, he won't be focused on what's important. His mind will be clouded. Adrian Matejka was portraying Jack Johnson as beating the person up from the inside, causing his opponent to ruin himself from the inside out. The loser of trash talking is left vulnerable before the match even begins.

Jordan Hardman said...

I think that Johnson used "Mouth Fighting" as a way to get in the opponents head. He is the champion because he wins the fight before it even starts. It is like the opponents mind has been in a fight and it drains him mentally.

MyVampire15 said...

So, in this poem, the human mouth is like a snake in the grass. It waits until the right moment and attacks. In Johnson's view, the mouth is a major distraction for his opponents and when he sees the mouth attacking his opponent, he knows in his mind that he will win.

Trion T. said...

What captured my attention is the part where he says that fighters go wild and lose their composure. It reminded of a time when I was playing a video game with my brother and he started talking so much trash that I started to mash on the controller trying to get in one hit. People tend to think that trash talkers are the one who don't know how to play the game when in reality, they're the only ones playing it right.

Jelani Brown said...

The talk before the fight is meant to stop your opponent from using a strategy. When his strategy is broken, your opponent tends to fight blindly like. beast. Johnson uses said talking to Attack a mindless beast rather than a tactical person.

jingolder said...

I find it interesting that Jack Johnson shared the same instinct for fighting as Mike Tyson did when he was in his prime. Tyson used a similar technique that involved staring the opponent in the eye until the match started. If the opponent looked away before the match started, the Tyson would know that he already won. It is interesting that these two legendary fighters share the this specific of an instinct and technique when trying to mentally beat their opponent.

Tyler Johnson said...

Jack Jackson uses psychological warfare to antagonize his opponents, compelling them to sink into a trap that serves to distract his opponents and patronize their concentration, leading to his ultimate success. It's rather ingenious.

Rubin Logan said...

The mouth is one of the strongest weapons black people have. For we are the face of trash talking and getting in people heads. It is technique used to break down the opponent mentally so they will not be able to perform the best physically because now they are thinking too much or not enough.
Rubin l.