The Big Smoke

By Adrian Matejka
(Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780143123729, 109pp.)

Publication Date: May 28, 2013

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A finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in Poetry acollection 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.

About the Author
Matejka is a recent graduate of the Southern Illinois University MFA program. He is a Cave Canem fellow. He currently lives in Rochester, New York.
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