Students and colleagues have described Washington College professor and writer Bob Day as incorrigible, controversial, impossibly stubborn, radical, and egomaniacal. It’s also common for the same people to say he is an exceptionally gifted educator and writer, who is brilliantly persuasive, entrepreneurial, genuinely funny and quite “real” in contrast to the rarified world of higher education academic life.
With almost forty years of living in and around Chestertown, the best selling author and teacher delights in telling stories of battles won and lost with college presidents, English departments, and colleagues in his field of literature. But there is no greater proof of his unique impact on the community than his founding of the creative writing program at Washington College, and the creation of the O’Neill Literary House and Literary Press on Washington Avenue.
With a potent mixture of funding from the writer Sophie Kerr and Kansas chutzpah, Day made Chestertown a literary destination for such writers as Allen Ginsberg, Katherine Anne Porter, William Stafford, Toni Morrison, Joseph Brodsky, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Anthony Burgess, Edward Albee, poet Billy Collins and William Kennedy. The end result of his effort and vision has left Washington College with one of the most distinguished writing programs in the country. His most recent essay, “We’ll Always Have McSorley’s” currently appears in American Scholar magazine.