John Wieners reads from Ace of Pentacles (1974), Autumn in New York (published in 1985 as Selected Poems, 1958-1984).



Reads "Invocation to Summer." [Recording starts mid-poem "... our time here is enchanted, what more is there to say, the flowers are perfect, they do not die..."]


John Wieners


"Invitation Au Voyage II." Do you know that poem of Baudelaire's? It's something at the end of the world. He's speaking to his beloved, very simple. You know, lots of the German Romanticism was very simple.




Reads "Invitation Au Voyage II."


John Wieners


Well, let's go back to the old poems, then, that have been published. Stuart Montgomery, well, it doesn't matter. But that— I can send it off to England to the Fulcrum Press who's been doing a lot of Basil Bunting, an English poet of '65, resuscitated in America again. It's about time.




Reads "Long Nook."


John Wieners


I'll just make random choices. "At Big Sur."




Reads "At Big Sur.”


John Wieners






Reads "Louise."


John Wieners


"The Pool of Light."




Reads "The Pool of Light."


John Wieners


For Mari— No, this is “For Marion."




Reads "For Marion."


John Wieners


“The Mermaid Song.” I'm going to pass on that one. Forgive me for this. I thought the other poems would carry me through, but I'm reading what seems in keeping with the mood of tonight, which seems to be more lyrical. "The Serpent's Hiss."




Reads "The Serpent's Hiss."


John Wieners


And this is called "Tuesday 5:00 PM"




Reads "Tuesday 5:00 PM" [published as “Tuesday 7:00 PM”]


John Wieners


I'm going to read the "The Imperatrice." Ace of Pentacles is a card in the Tarot deck, but the book should be called ‘pente’ which are the words that appeared in a hypnogogic vision. Hypnogogic is the state between waking and sleeping. It's what Jung practiced and his Marie Louise Franz would take down the things that came to him in the state between waking and sleeping and the letters ‘pente’ appeared in my— in that state and I didn't know what they meant, so I kept hunting around and I made the word 'pentacles' out of it, and somebody said why don't you call it "Ace of Pentacles"? And we made a whole thing about the Tarot deck, but that's not the title of the book. It should be ‘pente’ and that's from the Greek which is ‘wall.’ And I'd like have as a frontispiece for the book William Blake's "The Chimney Sweep," the second version of that from the Songs of Experience, when he says that my mother and father have gone up to the church to pray, and they make a heaven of my misery. That kind of thing. But the Imperatrice is another card from the Tarot deck. It's the third card of the deck.




Reads "The Imperatrice."


John Wieners


There is something else I thought I'd like to read after that one. I'll read a poem for Sylvia Plath who was an American poet who married an Englishman, Ted Hughes, and had mental troubles and wrote a novel about it called The Bell Jar under a pseudonym, Victoria Lucas, so as not to embarrass her mother, and then thing became too much for her and I think in 1963, she did away with herself in London, and it was a great loss. Some people feel that and some do not, they feel that at least— Lowell has written an introduction to her poems posthumously printed called Ariel, and then her first book was The Colossus. But Victoria Lucas was— The Bell Jar was— You could buy it through William Hiderman and it came down from Canada to the United States and it's never been printed in the country. This is "The Suicide."




Reads "The Suicide."


John Wieners


Let's read some happy poems, I'm getting depressed.




Reads "Ode on a Common Fountain." [CUT mid-poem, beginning "...about your pipes and mouth, in patience wait the flooding of your lands..."]


John Wieners


That's the first poem, I ever— I was twenty, so that was twelve years ago, that poem was written. Now I can go back— I'm still writing about Acis and Galatea, but these are terribly sentimental, distraught poems. Drunken poems, you can call them. Maybe we'll have one more in that order, or is that anything from that first reading that you'd like to hear again? I'd rather not go into... Yes? [Audience member suggests poem.] Okay, that's what Spender did say to me, he said you look like a de-frocked priest, so... Which I thought was awfully cruel, but I think I am one, so... My sister was a nun, I can be a priest. Poets are priests, you know.




Reads untitled poem beginning "There are holy orders in life..."





John Wieners at SGWU, 1966

Catalog numberI006-11-119
Labelsone 5”, single track reel, at 7 1/2 ips, mono
Sound qualityGood
SpeakersJohn Wieners (Introduction cut)
VenueHall Building - Art Gallery
DateOctober 8, 1966

Supplemental Material


00:00- Reading “Invitation to Summer.”

01:09- Introduces “Invitation Au Voyage II.”

01:30- Reads “Invitation Au Voyage II.”

03:15- Introduces “Long Nook.”

03:44- Reads “Long Nook.”

04:38- Introduces “At Big Sur.”

04:53- Reads “At Big Sur.”

05:12- Introduces “Louise.”

05:21- Reads “Louise.”

05:48- Introduces “The Pool of Light.”

05:53- Reads “The Pool of Light.”

06:14- Introduces “For Marion.”

06:19- Reads “For Marion.”

07:05- Introduces “The Serpent’s Hiss.”

07:52- Reads “The Serpent’s Hiss.”

08:37- Introduces “Tuesday 5:00 PM.”

08:43- Reads “Tuesday 5:00 PM.”

10:45- Introduces “The Imperatrice.”

12:09- Reads “The Imperatrice”

13:38- Introduces “The Suicide.”

15:06- Reads “The Suicide.”

17:04- Reads "Ode on a Common Fountain." Beginning mid-sentence, “...about your pipes and mouth”

19:51- Introduces untitled poem beginning  “There are holy orders in life...”

20:54- Reads unknown poem



Works Cited

Foster, Edward Halsey. "Gay Literature: Poetry and Prose". The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature. Jay Parini (ed). Oxford University Press 2004. Oxford Reference Online. Concordia University Library, Montreal. December 13, 2009. <>.

Ward, Geoff. “John Joseph Wieners, poet, Jan. 6th 1934 - March 1st 2002”. The Independent. In Memoriam John Wieners: Tom Raworth Website. December 13, 2009. <>.

“Poetry Readings”. OP-ED (Sir George Williams University, Montreal). October 6, 1967: page 6.

“Wieners, John, 1934-”. Literature Online Biography. Literature Online: ProQuest, 2009. Concordia University Library, Montreal. September 16, 2009. <  es_id=xri:lion-us&rft_id=xri:lion:rec:ref:3339>.


Howard Fink list of poems

“John Wieners”
reel information


Transcript, Research, Introduction and Edits by Celyn Harding-Jones

1 comment

  1. Lee Hannigan says:

    Transcript edit required: the first poem in this recording should be titled “Invocation to Summer,” not “Invitation to Summer.” Of note: Wieners read two weeks later, on 24 October 1966, with Robert Creeley at the Uterberg Poetry Center in New York, the recording of which can be found on PennSound (

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