The Big Smoke
By Adrian Matejka
(Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780143123729, 109pp.)
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
List Price: $18.00*
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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.