Robert Day, Writer, Teacher, Advocate, 1941–2022

January 11, 2022


Robert Day and John Barth at the offices of AWP at Washington College, Maryland, circa 1970

We are sad to note the passing of Robert Day, one of the early movers and shakers behind AWP. Bob Day was a wonderful writer and teacher who made Washington College on Maryland’s Eastern shore a hotbed of literature in the 1970s and 1980s, bringing the most distinguished writers of the time to read and speak on campus, including such figures as Allen Ginsberg, Katherine Anne Porter, William Stafford, Toni Morrison, Joseph Brodsky, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Anthony Burgess, Edward Albee, Billy Collins, and William Kennedy. Bob was renowned for his ever-present cowboy boots and his passionate love for all things literary. James Dissette of The Tabot Spy recalls:

Bob was a connector, a conductor of literary events, and a master of introductions. When he brought the poet David Ray to the campus, there wasn’t even an available space for the reading—it was held in a biology classroom. Then came Diane Wakoski and William Stafford, and dozens of some of the finest writers in the world who took the time to engage with writing students.

His legacies include not only his work to develop AWP in its early days, which are described in his essay on our website, but also to found a literary house at Washington College, which he did in 1970. Originally called the Lit House, then Richmond House, it  still thrives today as the Rose O’Neill Literary House, providing a roster of extraordinary literary programs that ask students at Washington College to “see themselves as part of a global community of writers: serious, professional, inquisitive, and committed to the craft of writing.” Bob's spirit and caring for literary community will be sorely missed.

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