Literary History of Duluth: William Sommers

I’ve struggled with how to blend a history of publishers in Duluth with a history of authors. It feels like that would widen my scope beyond the manageable. And then I find a book like this.

William Sommers was really interesting.

The DNT obit is excerpted below:

William Anthony Sommers, born in Duluth on January 20, 1927, died peacefully in his sleep on July 3rd, at his home in Pittsboro, NC. He was 92 years old. The son of Greek and German immigrants, he was a retired Foreign Service Officer and noted poet, who attended Denfeld High School and served in the Navy during the final years of World War II. With the help of the GI Bill, he went on to graduate from Middlebury College in Vermont and received a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Littauer Center (now the John F. Kennedy School of Government.) In 1950, he married the late artist Joan Pokorney Sommers, also from Duluth. In the early 1960s, Mr. Sommers left his position as a town manager in New Jersey, and, taking a leap of faith, moved his growing family to Bangkok, Thailand, his first posting as a Foreign Service Officer with the State Department’s newly created USAID. Among the initial wave of USAID officers in Thailand, he went on to build a career as an international local development specialist that spanned forty years, sending him on assignments around the world – Thailand, Vietnam, The Philippines, Indonesia, Poland, Bosnia, Hungary, Egypt and Brchko. In the latter part of his career he returned to the States and was appointed Commissioner of Inspectional Services for the City Boston, followed by Commissioner of Public Works for the City of Cambridge. In 2001, he retired from public service and, with his wife, moved to Pittsboro, NC … [Brčko is in Bosnia.]

His published works include five books of poetry, along with many short stories and essays, all chronicling his life and travels: The Ballad of Norasingh, The Dances of Shiva, The Five Names of Pharoah, Vietnam: The Five Seasons and The Teachable Heart. In 2017, he published his memoir Foreign Vistas: Stories from a Life in the Foreign Service.

Below are some excerpts from Sommers’ poetry.

This is likely one of the coolest finds I’ve made, but if I include not just the publishers from Duluth, but the authors, does the project get too big?

1 Comment

David Beard

about 3 years ago

PS:  Did anyone know Sommers?

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