We begin the day. We could begin anywhere. As Renee Gladman writes in Calamities, “I began the day...” and then again, “I began the day…,” finally bringing us to teaching and its challenges: “I began the day looking up at the whiteboard, wondering how I would do the thing I needed to do. My students were waiting. Robert Frost was their picture of contemporary poetry.”

I titled my undergraduate writing course, “Talking at the Boundaries: Writing about Literature,” after David Antin’s book of the same name (New Directions Press, 1976). Talking at the Boundaries is made up of stitched-together transcriptions of Antin’s improvisatory talks. The book insists on a few things. Antin says, “it is not the work of a professional.” Later: “what kind of professional was Socrates?” [more...]