The Big Smoke by Adrian Matejka

Into the Wild

The Big Smoke Read Online Free - A finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in Poetry—a collection that examines the myth and history of the prizefighter Jack Johnson

The legendary Jack Johnson (1878–1946) was a true American creation. The child of emancipated slaves, he overcame the violent segregationism of Jim Crow, challenging white boxers—and white America—to become the first African-American heavyweight world champion. The Big Smoke, Adrian Matejka’s third work of poetry, follows the fighter’s journey from poverty to the most coveted title in sports through the multi-layered voices of Johnson and the white women he brazenly loved. Matejka’s book is part historic reclamation and part interrogation of Johnson’s complicated legacy, one that often misremembers the magnetic man behind the myth.

Title : The Big Smoke
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0143123726
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 128 pages


Shawn rated it ★★★★★

June 09, 2016

What an incredible collection. No wonder it was a National Book Award finalist. If you're looking for lyrical poetry, look elsewhere, but if you want a raw, gritty collection full of imagery and emotion that pack a punch (pun only slightly intended), this is definitely for you. I knew very little...

Tom Tabasco rated it ★★★★☆

April 15, 2016

This is a collection of poems about Jack Johnson, the first black Heavy Weight Champion. I was attracted by the idea. I didn't know anything about Johnson before buying the book, so I went to Youtube where I found a couple of great black-and-white videos of his fights and a documentary on his lif...

D.A. rated it ★★★★★

January 15, 2014

There's something sublime about this collection of poems concerning Jack Johnson, the heavy-weight boxer who became a world champion and became a beacon for young people seeking racial equality and the chance to rise to their own achievements, whether in sports, the arts or the arena of American...

Michael rated it ★★★★★

October 08, 2013

The Big Smoke is the third poetry collection by Matejka. Longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award, this collection is about Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion of the world. Told through a range of narrators - Jack, the women in his life (Belle, Hattie,and Etta), and...

Joey rated it ★★★★★

November 22, 2013

A collection whose brilliance sneaks up on you like a great left-hook.

Mitzi rated it ★★★★★

February 05, 2015

This book excited me more than any other to teach high school English. Just imagine the different ways you could go with an accessible book of poetry about the first black heavy weight champion who went from rags to riches, has gold teeth, reads Shakespeare and goes to the opera, likes fast cars,...

Pete rated it ★★★★☆

June 16, 2016

another reviewer called this a "verse novelization" and that's actually spot-on. these are not showy lyrical compositions, just matter of fact, unencumbered lines telling the story of jack johnson (impossibly rich as history, a vein of inspiration that matejka works with restraint and a great eye...

Michael rated it ★★★★★

July 28, 2014

THE BIG SMOKE is Adrian Matejka's masterpiece. And only his third book. Using a series of poems told from the perspective of Jack Johnson's wife and lovers and, more pointedly from the first black Heavyweight Champion's view, THE BIG SMOKE presents a sharp pocket biography/myth of this legendary...

Clifford rated it ★★★★★

January 16, 2016

What a wonderful collection of poetry about a surprising subject--Jack Johnson, the first African American Heavyweight Champion of the World. See my full review at Review of The Big Smoke

Jen rated it ★★★★☆

June 12, 2017

Took this out of someone's hands after they were finished with it. It's got a really compelling narrative. There is not too much lyricism to it, but it paints an interesting and blunt picture of Jack Johnson's life. Thematically it gets to the heart of ambition and the brutality of seeking succes...

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