For Ephraim Scott Sommers, the author of The Night We Set the Dead Kid on Fire (Tebot Bach, 2017), writing poetry is how he works through his feelings about the violence he has experienced during his lifetime.
“The violence when I was a kid was something that I thought was normal,” Sommers says. “I thought it was a part of everybody’s upbringing. It wasn’t until I got to grad school in Michigan, and I was talking to somebody, saying, 'Yeah, there were fights probably every weekend at parties when I was a kid. I saw people get hit with crowbars and skateboards.' They were very surprised, and I said, 'It wasn’t like that for you?'”
A resident of Atascadero, California, Sommers is a poet and singer-songwriter. His book of poems, The Night We Set the Dead Kid on Fire, won the 2016 Patricia Bibby First Book Award. As a musician, Ephraim has toured nationally, releasing his solo album, Stones & Smoke (2011), as well as the albums Paint the Town (2008) and Legsaround (2006) with his band Siko (pronounced "See'-co).
“I go to art to explore particularly difficult sets of feelings,” Sommers says. “I do appreciate poems of joy. I’ve been trying to write more of those recently, because I realize so many of the poems in this collection are morose and trying to answer difficult questions. I go to poetry to try to answer a question about something I don’t really understand about a memory. I dig back into that experience and try to come to some sort of understanding about it.”
Sommers received his PhD from Western Michigan University and is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at Winthrop University.
Sommers will read from his poetry collection together with author Dan Mancilla during Western Michigan University's Gwen Frostic Reading Series on Tuesday, December 12, at 7 p.m. in Room 157-159 of the Bernhard Center. The Frostic Series is sponsored by WMU's Department of English and is free and open to the public.
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