In these rich and incisive essays, Robert Day reveals how his “learning” as a student defined his “teaching” at Washington College, the University of Kansas, the Iowa Writers Workshop and other colleges and universities. He learned because his best teachers included him into their intellectual lives, and it seemed natural for him to do the same for his students. The first part of this collection contains tributes to his teachers, and the second part tells how he followed their examples in his own teaching.
About the Author
Robert Day’s novel The Last Cattle Drive was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. His short fiction has won a number of awards and citations, including two Seaton Prizes, a Pen/Faulkner NEA prize, and Best American Short Story and Pushcart citations. His fiction has been published by Tri-Quarterly, Black Warrior Review, Kansas Quarterly, North Dakota Quarterly, Summerset Review, and New Letters among other belles-lettres magazines. He is the author of two novellas, In My Stead, and The Four Wheel Drive Quartet, as well as three collections of short fiction: Speaking French in Kansas, Where I Am Now, and The Billion Dollar Dream.
His nonfiction has been published in the Washington Post Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes FYI, Modern Maturity, World Literature Today, American Scholar, and Numero Cinq. As a member of the Prairie Writers Circle, his essays have been reprinted in numerous newspapers and journals nationwide, and on such internet sites as Counterpunch and Arts and Letters Daily. Recent book publications include We Should Have Come By Water (poems), The Committee to Save the World (literary non-fiction), Chance Encounters of a Literary Kind (memoirs), and Let Us Imagine Lost Love (a novel).
Among his awards and fellowships are a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, Yaddo and McDowell fellowships, a Maryland Arts Council Award, and the Edgar Wolfe Award for distinguished fiction. His teaching positions include The Iowa Writers Workshop; The University of Kansas; and the Graduate Faculty at Montaigne College, The University of Bordeaux.
He is past Acting President of the Associated Writing Programs; the founder and former Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House; and founder and Publisher of the Literary House Press at Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland.
To say Bob was an enthusiastic, engaged teacher would be accurate but insufficient. He managed to be both absolutely serious about introducing us to fine fiction and poetry—by writers as varied as W.S. Merwin, Katherine Anne Porter, John Cheever, Gwendolyn Brooks, Tim O’Brien, William Gass, Mavis Gallant, John Ashbery, Donald Hall, James Dickey, Edward Albee, and Toni Morrison (most of whom he brought to campus to talk with us)—and about as playful as a college professor can be and stay employed. He made writing poetry and fiction seem as important a thing as one could dedicate one’s time to, as well as a great amount of fun.
These are delightful essays. I especially love “We’ll Always Have McSorley’s,” “I Look Out for Ed Wolfe,” and “Tales out of School.” I’ve come away from reading them feeling immense gratitude to those lovely men back in Kansas who saw in Bob Day a worthy recipient of their care and attention. And I’m grateful to Bob Day for crafting these pieces for our delectation.