The New Black Bart Poetry Society; Minutes of the Inaugural Meeting Oct. 3, 2012

The New Black Bart Poetry Society
Minutes of Inaugural Meeting

 The inaugural meeting of The New Black Bart Poetry Society was held on Wednesday October 3, 2012.
The meeting commenced at 6:00 PM and was held at the River Reader, 13655 Main Street, Guerneville, CA.
The meeting was called to order by the Grand Poobah Emeritus, Pat Nolan.   

The Grand Poobah Emeritus called for a roll call of the organization members.  The following persons identified themselves:
Chinee, Gaucho, Miss Kitty, Eck Cetera, Hood Wink, Annie, Irish, No Name, Wry Anne

Charter members not in attendance:
            Big Al, Weasel, Don Wan, D.V. 8, Preacher, Slow Foot Sue 

Temporary membership cards were issued  

The members elected the following officers:
Grand  Poobah/Moderator, Chinee
Secretary/ Historian, Irish
Treasurer/ Sergeant at Arms, Wry Anne

Thereupon a general discussion ensued wherein it was agreed the society would not be a forum for individual members to read or recite their own poetry but, instead, would be to discuss the art of various poets and poetry subjects in general. Numerous suggestions for future topic presentations were proffered along with those projected in the provisional Mission Statement which for the time being would continue to be held as a document under review.

Grand Poobah Emeritus Pat Nolan thereupon delivered the opening lecture on the inception of the original Black Bart Poetry Society, its history as recorded in the annals of Life Of Crime, its scurrilous newsletter, and the ostensible future of The New Black Bart Poetry Society, a viable community based society of individuals with an abiding interest in the art of poetry.   The text of the opening lecture can be read here: The New Black Bart Poetry Society.

Irish as Secretary/Historian closed the meeting by presenting an article from the September 14, 1909 Tacoma Times entitled:  “Black Bart”, He Gets $3,000 a Year for Being Honest for the record.

“Black Bart”, He Gets $3,000 a Year For Being Honest
San Francisco, Cal., Sept 14
            Does it pay to be honest?
            If you secure an answer to that question, visit the offices of Captain Seymour, head of the detective bureau of Wells Fargo & Co., in this city on the first day of any month between the hours of 2 and 3 p. m.
            If you do, you will meet a rather neat old man, say between 60 and 70 years of age, who on entering the room will walk up to the desk of the veteran officer who has brought grief to more express robbers than any man on the Pacific coast, will exchange greetings and will be handed a package containing $250 in crisp bank notes.
            Should you ask him to talk; he’ll tell you that honesty pays.
            He ought to know what he is talking about, for for 10 years past he has been receiving $250 monthly from the big corporation and all in the world he has to do for the money is to keep honest.
            This mysterious old man, if he could be induced to speak further, would tell you that his name is C. E. Bolton.  Rather an ordinary name, but should you succeed in getting deeper into his history he may be induced to admit that he is no other than “Black Bart PO-8,” that when in action he is rated one of the most desperate highwaymen that ever waylaid an express agent, and that before he went on the corporation payroll he cost Wells-Fargo $100,000 in express robberies.
            He was finally caught, thanks to the efforts of the late Wells-Fargo detective, Capt. Hume, but after his release the company so feared his future efforts that they sent for him, agreed to pay him $250 monthly if he would rob no more express boxes, the agreement was promptly entered into, and “Black Bart PO-8” has been drawing his salary ever since.
            “Black Bart PO-8” owes his title to the fact that on every express box he robbed he placed this mysterious sign.  Accompanying the mystic sign would always be a verse written in a hand that looked like copper plate: 

Here I lay me down to sleep to
       Await the coming morrow.
Perhaps success, perhaps defeat,
 And everlasting sorrow
       But come what may for better or worse 

            While engaged in his robberies during the ‘80s, Bolton made his home in this city, and much to the chagrin of local detectives it developed after his arrest that he had reckoned them among his friends and had frequently discussed the “Black Bart” robberies with the flower of the local detective bureau.

Note in 1900-1910, $250 per month would be equivalent to $7,725 per month in today’s values.  Also the $100,000 “Black Bart” stole from Wells-Fargo would be equivalent $3,130,000 in today’s values. 

The meeting adjourned at 7:10 PM. 

Further Links
Maureen Hurley has written a thorough and imaginative account of Black Bart and his stage robberies as well as posting photograph she took at the First Annual Black Bart Poetry Society Membership Drive and Benefit at the On Broadway in San Francisco in 1983 at her blog, Literrata.

Copies of Life Of Crime, Documents In The Guerrilla War Against Language Poetry are available from the publisher, Poltroon Press, Berkeley

An alternate account of the history of The Black Bart Poetry Society can be found in the pages of Exquisite Corpse entitled More Poetry Assholes.


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2 Responses to The New Black Bart Poetry Society; Minutes of the Inaugural Meeting Oct. 3, 2012

  1. Hello, Mr. Nolan — I encountered your blog while doing a search for you and Keith Abbott and found the wonderful — really wonderful — post you wrote in 2014 about Steve, Lew Welch’s reading at our apartment after the big bash at Glide Memorial, and the collection of Steve’s poems published by Subpress in 2009.

    I tell people the story of Lew’s reading from time to time, but, like so many things, you really had to be there. It was great to read an account (wonderfully written) of that night from someone who was there — and remembers it just like I do. Though you seemed a little hazy about the actual reading? If so, here is what happened; he sang, declaimed, there was bebop and scat — and he even danced a little. It was so much more than just a reading. It was the most amazing performance by a poet I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some good ones. I wish a hologram of that after-Glide reading could be provided with every Lew Welch book; it would be a huge boost to sales. (He pulled out all the stops to, I thought, show this young generation how it use to, and should be, done.)

    Here is why I am searching for you and Keith (I can’t find anything from or about Keith online that is newer than 2014, I hope that’s just because of my poor search skills?) — the collection of my work, Bagdad Cafe, that Clifford almost published in the mid-70s (it got only as far as final proof, which was beautiful of course, before Clifford, whose life was falling apart,was forced to close down the press — this was in 1976) is being published by a small press back East later this year. I am trying to find people who knew and were part of that group, around Cranium Press, who knew me and may have read my work for a variety of reasons that have to do with the publication of the book, including because I hope to do some PR for the book, which is dedicated to Steve and will be published under my “real name,” Mary Gilbreath, and someone else’s memories might be useful. Also, I’d really like to send the book to people to read and possibly review. If you wouldn’t mind a brief exchange of emails, I’m providing my email below. I’d love to hear from you — Mary (use to be Carey)

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