[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