Boyle's husband died of lung cancer in 1963 in San Francisco. Soon she began teaching at San Francisco State. She backed the black students' protest there in the days of S.I. Hayakawa's university presidency, and wrote about it in "Long Walk at San Francisco State."
Boyle taught--what else?--writing. Not that she approves of creative writing courses: "Every time I teach one, I say, 'Geez, never take another one.' " Some of her students at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where she taught this spring, had taken eight creative writing courses and planned to take more, she said, shaking her head in horror. "It's ridiculous. Go out and live. Do anything. I flunked kindergarten. Actually, I never went to school at all. If I had, I probably wouldn't have written all the books that I wrote because I didn't know that other people had written so much."
Live. And stand up for what you believe, Boyle said. She and poet Denise Levertov spoke against the war in Vietnam on the Boston Common during her year at the Radcliffe Institute in 1964. People threw bottles, eggs, "everything you can imagine," at them because opposition to the war was limited then. Later Boyle, singer Joan Baez and Baez's mother served jail time for sitting in at the Oakland induction center.