Making Decisions: How We Choose the Pieces We Choose

Posted by Cassidy Brighton, Gandy Dancer CNF Reader for 5.2

Making decisions on what gets published each semester in Gandy Dancer is not an easy task. With so many submissions and limited room within the magazine, the selection process can get intense.

This is my second semester working to create Gandy Dancer, and my second time working to choose the creative nonfiction pieces that will be published. Each time, we have had to make tough choices and have had tough conversations about what few pieces are going to get put into this semester’s journal.

This semester, there was one piece that stood out to the creative nonfiction team. The essay “Fifteen Ways of Looking at a Privy” was one that stood out right away. This piece is a great example of the kind of “good writing” we are looking to publish.

This essay takes a look at something that people normally don’t think of as beautiful or interesting, an outhouse, and makes fifteen compelling points about it. This piece is written in a list of numbered sections that are strong individually and also flow together to make a cohesive essay. At first, I thought that the separate pieces within this essay would create a clunky or disjointed story or even have more of a Buzzfeed feel, but I was proven wrong. Usually, I rely on dialogue in creative nonfiction pieces to push the plot forward or to break up the sections of scene. In this piece, sections create this movement. Each one is short, and the sentence length varies which made the piece fly by with a lovely rhythm. Through sophisticated descriptions, informative definitions, and adept characterization, the author created a meaningful and memorable essay. The title of this piece starts it off on a strong point. People may not know what a privy is at first and will read on to find out, or will be compelled to read something about a privy because they are curious as to just how an author can make something like this interesting.

Choosing what goes into the journal is a hard job, especially because of how many well written and interesting submissions we receive. Choosing just a few essays from a batch of contenders is an intense process, but becomes easier when unanimous decisions can be made on pieces. “Fifteen Ways of Looking at a Privy” was a piece that made our job that much easier.

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Love and Poetry in a Dark Time: Dante Di Stefano’s Love is a Stone Endlessly in Flight

Posted by Evan Goldstein, GD Managing Editor for 5.2

I finished Love is a Stone Endlessly in Flight, Dante Di Stefano’s debut poetry collection, alone under the harsh fluorescent lamp that hangs above my dinner table. It was a frigid winter night, and the wind howled its way under the door to my house and into the living room. Earlier, I had spent considerable time looking out of my bedroom window: trash and lost milk crates skated across the concrete past the students fighting their way to campus in the wind.

It’s easy, especially on Western New York winter nights like this, to feel unhopeful. We live in an unhopeful time, as well. As we watch the authoritarian Trump administration double down on America’s long bipartisan history of war abroad and austerity and state terror at home it can be easy to forget where to find hope, or at least solace, in the day by day. Continue reading

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Writing Advice from Idra Novey, Author of Ways to Disappear and Exit, Civilian

Posted by Kallie Swyer, GD Poetry Editor for 5.2, Former Contributor for 4.1 and 5.1

As a part of the Geneseo Literary Forum, translator, novelist, and poet Idra Novey came to our campus to discuss her books with in-class visits and a reading. I was lucky enough to be in one of the classes that she visited, where we got to discuss her latest novel Ways to Disappear,  and her recent poetry collection Exit, Civilian Continue reading

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When The Autistic Evaluates Poetry


Posted by
Megan Grant, GD Poetry Reader for 5.2

When I find myself bemoaning the five hours and nine minutes between my friend Chrissy and me, I read her poetry out loud to myself.  I sit cross-legged in front of my bleached-wooden bookshelf and run my fingers across novels and memoirs until they rest on Issue 3.1 of Gandy Dancer.  Chrissy’s poems are printed on page thirty-one; the journal bends open to her.

I have memorized the degree of emphasis of each syllable, the number of milliseconds between every dash and line break.  The stanzas sound like Chrissy, despite our voices’ differing timbres.  However, no matter how many times I recite her poems, both the ones she wrote in college and the new ones she’s written while pursuing her MFA a UMass, I still cannot comprehend what it means to be, “subatomic reactions daisychained in fractals,” or to, “supernova against your stringbean cilia.”  I can’t quite figure out all of what the poems are saying. Continue reading

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What am I even doing here? Writing and Existential Angst

Posted by Lily Codera, GD Poetry Reader for 5.2

So you’ve decided to write, and nothing is going to stop you. You’re going to write, and no number of soul-draining barista or restaurant server positions (on the side) can slow your momentum now. At this point, you may have developed a routine that allows you to work on your writing regularly; you may have even pinpointed your most productive time of day so as to “protect” it, like Kate Daloz suggested at her recent reading. Maybe your dad has finally come to terms with the fact that you’re probably not going to become the doctor or lawyer that he always wanted you to be. Great. So why do you still feel so unsettled about all this? Continue reading

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Gandy Dancer Goes to AWP

Posted by Joshua DeJoy, CNF Co-Editor for 5.2

Several current and former Gandy Dancers attended the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP)Conference in Washington, DC, February 8-11. The conference was a rewarding experience for all Geneseo attendees, including myself, Managing Editors Evan Goldstein and Oliver Diaz, Poetry Editor Kallie Swyer, former Poetry Editor Robbie Held, former CNF reader Isabel Owen and friend of Gandy Dancer Elizabeth Pellegrino.

The AWP conference has two main components: dozens of panels by writers, editors, and translators and an absolutely massive book fair. Even the most diligent and caffeinated attendee can only experience a small fraction of what the conference has to offer. For example, I attended a couple of panels and then spent the rest of the time at the book fair, going systematically past hundreds of tables and booths and seeing what they had to offer. Continue reading

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10 Articles to Read on Life in the Trump Era

Posted by Katherine Jerabeck , GD Fiction Reader for 5.2
The Donald has now been in office for nearly two months, and it seems as though each day brings a new jarring piece of news. Nearly sixty+ days of anticipation, disappointment, and anger with each new “policy” installation, cabinet appointment, and petition put forth to sign. Here are ten links to good reads—not more bad news, but ways to adapt and fight back in this new era. Continue reading

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A Day in the Life of an English Major

Posted by Tyler Herman, GD Creative Non-Fiction Reader for 5.2

Tired of being belittled for choosing to major in English? Me too. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most English majors have an aunt who repeatedly, “You’re still an English major? How are you going to get a job when you graduate?” And if you don’t have that aunt, then good for you, but you probably have that chemistry major friend who thinks his life is a million times more difficult than yours. I have gotten a lot of backlash for being an English major. When I tell people what my major is, I know to expect the “are you at least going to go to law school” look. But, hey, we do a lot, we know a lot, and we are proud of what we do. Continue reading

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Posted by Anthony Bettina, GD Creative Non-Fiction Reader for 5.2

Yes, everyone in America knows (or at least should know) about the plight of the African-American from the inception of The United States America to present day. It is a topic of frequent discussion in political and social circles alike when addressing concerns such as the legitimacy of Affirmative Action in an attempt to counter-act the unforgivable wrongs of slavery in America.  But, what we as Americans fail to do is truly understand the horrors of slavery and its lasting impact on America.

What Harriet Jacobs does in her narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is truly remarkable. As a partially self-taught speaker & writer of English, she manages to eloquently explain the natural rights denied to the common black woman, whether this be the right to their own children, right to consent, or right to abide by their own religious beliefs. To get a more in depth look at her life, I encourage you to read this biography about her, and to learn more about slavery in America in general check here. Her relationship with her first master- “Dr. Flint” is especially revealing.   Continue reading

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The Opposite of Loneliness: Marina Keegan’s Sentiments for the Student

Posted By Emily McClemont, GD Creative Nonfiction Reader for 5.2

“Sparkl[ing] with talent, humanity, and youth.” (O, The Oprah Magazine).

In May of 2012, Marina Keegan graduated magna cum laude from Yale University. She lost her life in a car accident shortly after. Two years following Keegan’s death, a collection of her short stories and essays was published. A New York Times bestseller and Goodreads Choice Awards in Nonfiction (2014) winner, The Opposite of Loneliness conveys, as Keegan’s former mentor, Harold Bloom states, Keegan’s request for the student generation “to invest their youthful pride and exuberance both in self-development and in the improvement of our tormented society.” Continue reading

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