Baa Baa Ooh La La: Planting One on Yeats’ Kisser

If I placed a personals ad today, it would read:

Framed Single Minded Writer 1Desire matters. Since I have recently been suffering from strong multi-faceted whims, and because I believe in honoring such impulses, I booked a venue. Now I can happily say, “You are all cordially invited to join Local Poets Guild, TEO 315, Basement Films & Friends for a rollicking good night of visceral and intellectual tangling. Our offering of sonic, phonetic, and visual  explorations will take place one night only from 7-10 pm on Saturday January 5th, 2013 at the Filling Station  (1024– 4th Street SW on the corner of 4th and Pacific). At the door, we will be asking you for a mere Five-oh-Five bucks, an “Our Town” kind of price. Nickel ante, penny up, nothing dime-a-dozen here.

What does this have to do with Yeats? Everything … and the banjo.

Picture a city-whooped woman retreating to the high desert with a  big hat and a bigger metaphorical stack of electronic books recently purchased for 99cents or free. After a day of various scrappings in dirt, twig mullings, and cell-phone, thumb-jotted descriptions of birds (ie. “half-mooning,”  “habit-headed,” or “the near-pecker” ), the sun sets,  dark drops down cold,  the woman builds a  fire in the woodstove, settles onto the sofa under a blanket, face lit by the glow of her e-reader.

One of the night’s collections was “Discoveries: A Volume of Essays” by William Butler Yeats. Delight! I was–and remain–delighted. I became giddy and happy and not because of any necessary “agreement” or consensus with Yeats on the various subjects. Not even because of any particular exhibition of prowess on his part. Definitely not because of the analytical skills of this reader. Rather, I was delighted because these often extraordinarily short essays “felt” almost whipped off, raw, foibled, cantankerous, passionate, sometimes contrary–and real. These are the kinds of essays which let you glimpse “mind” instead of just “craft.”  A reader gets to witness the “underbrain.”  (Actual thinking in action.) A kind of contemplative exposé if you will, essays that might today be considered unfit for school assignments or rule-abiding forums etc, because of  odd extended metaphors “mixed with spittle,” confoundingly particular and highly personal notions that result in broad sweeping generalizations, and no hesitation to cite references like “somebody, I forget now who.” My favorite type of essay. Yeats makes no apology. And I need none.  Here are the smoldering coals you dump the next log onto, knowing, soon flames will burst forth, to go one way or another, but here, first, is source.

When I hit the essay titled “A Banjo Player,” my head popped. I’d been looking for an opportunity, or any excuse, to hear “BaBa,” a mythical tuba/banjo duet I’d heard tell of. (BaBa features one of my favorite musicians, Mark Weaver, on Tuba, along with Steven Robert Allen, one of my favorite former Alibi Arts Editors, for banjo and vocals.) Both musicians play in multiple contexts, but this particular instrumentation combo really gnashed at the possibilities of sound for me. I was curious. And then way up in Torrance County, there was Yeats, saying: “Sate it, Lisa. Give in to your curiosity.”

Actually what he said/wrote was, “A girl has been playing on the banjo. She is pretty and if I didn’t listen to her I could have watched her, and if I didn’t watch her I could have listened…”

Perfect. So come January, to kick of the new year, we’ll have a lovely lil show which will include, among other acts, Ba Ba (see more info below*), coupled with a full reading of the one-paragraph Yeats essay on his banjo-witnessing epiphany. And some tuba-literature too. (I found some I liked!!!)

Baba (large)

In the first set, we’ll also showcase a short film about poultry by Bryan Konefsky, which I’ve also been wanting to enjoy with an audience. In the second set, we’ll have more Yeats and more music with the latest incarnation of TEO 315 (with Mark Weaver again on tuba and Mike Balistreri on bass plus friends), as well as more poetry, including a bit of new stuff from me and others to be announced.

For now, only a few things matter:

Date: 1/05/13       Time: 7:00   Place: Filling Station       Cost: $5.05

And where do carnival games,  irradiated school lunches, and wrong-headed birth control come in?

“Beauty is difficult, Yeats.”**

And digression is a poetic device, as proven whole-heartedly in Bryan Konefsky’s film “Chicken Delight.”


And as Yeats said, “…the test of poetry is not in reason but in a delight…”

We’ve got that going on in the 505.

–Lisa Gill


* BABA = tuBA + BAnjo …. An Albuquerque-based duo founded in 2012, BABA combines tinges of early jazz and early country with alternative pop into an ear-pleasing, genre-smooshing musical concoction. Banjo player and singer Steven Robert Allen is currently engaged in a song-a-week-for-a-year recording project with the Americana band Young Edward. Specializing in playing across musical categories, tuba player Mark Weaver has performed in countless musical contexts both in New Mexico and around the country.  For more information on Baba, visit planetbaba or check them out on facebook.

(More on other acts and also what I like about the word “obscure” forthcoming.)


** This quote is from Canto 80 by Ezra Pound…

“‘Beauty is difficult, Yeats,’ said Aubrey Beardsley/
when Yeats asked why he drew horrors/…”