Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Adrian Matejka: The Big Smoke

How about some poetry for once? Let me recommend Adrian Matejka´s "The Big Smoke" (Penguin 2013), a collection of poems about the boxer Jack Johnson (1878-1946), the first african american heavyweight champion (1908 - 1915)!

Matejka lets Johnson and some of his girlfriends/wives speak through the poems, describing Johnson´s life and boxing career, from fighting for pocket money as a young boy to championship and high life, with nice cars, champagne, operas and pretty white women. This happening in a racial segregated society, and bound to cause envy and riots.

I first heard of Jack Johnson as a young student in the seventies, when the film club in Bergen screened William Cayton´s "A tribute to Jack Johnson", with the fantastic Miles Davis soundtrack, and Miles´ "A tribute to Jack Johnson" is a perfect soundtrack while reading the book too!

The music on the video is not the original soundtrack released by Miles Davis. Read more on YouTube.

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