In the fall of 2019, the then-managing editors of Gandy Dancer welcomed their readers to issue 8.1 while rejoicing that the journal had turned a new leaf. The seasons were changing, the staff prepared to embark on a new academic year of fall and spring editions, and many fresh-faced readers couldn’t wait to look over submissions.
There was no way to know it would be the last time, for three semesters, that the journal would be assembled in person. Since then, COVID has changed into a universally-known word; masks became more than an accessory and social distancing, ubiquitous. And yet, Gandy Dancer persevered. It weathered hardship and adapted. So, with enthusiasm, we are pleased to be back in person this semester. It’s with this return to new normalcy that we are overjoyed to welcome you to Gandy Dancer’s 18th edition.
None of us have remained the same people we were in fall 2019. To have done so would have been a disservice to ourselves and others. Perhaps, when you join us on this journey, through edition 10.1, you’ll find yourself reflecting on such change more than ever. Many of the submissions Gandy Dancer was grateful to receive this semester explore that shift from who we were to who we’ve become.
Good writing is about change. Whether this comes in the form of a character arc, shifting goals, personal growth, language or ideas, change is imperative to not only our lives but good art. Connor Kieh’s postscript, “Rookie,” invites us to recall our childhood passions after a lifetime of hurt and hiding; Jennifer Mirarcki’s poem “Deceivingly Beautiful Trails,” calls for us to rediscover the truth behind new changes, while Lassiter Waith’s fiction piece, “Salt-Raised Runt,” demonstrates the devastation of changing for someone else. The push-and-pull of what once was, and what can never be again, is present all throughout this issue.
In “Tunnel Slides,” a creative nonfiction piece by Jenna Barth, the narrator says, “Wait for me!” her older brother calls back. “No, catch up!” This back-and-forth sits right beneath the opening paragraph of Barth’s essay, which takes a good hard look at the challenges of growing up, the undying wish for someone who knows what’s going on to help you through—and what it feels like when that person isn’t there. You must navigate the “tunnel slides” alone. “Wait for me!” is a demand we have repeated to the world these last few semesters, but as ever, the world only demands that we catch up. In some small way, this edition of Gandy Dancer might be a step in the direction to catch-up. We hope 10.1 finds you where it’s meant to; in the changing center of your heart and the intellectual bit of your brain (and maybe your funny bone too, for good measure).
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for reading. May this edition of Gandy Dancer provide some guidance in our ever-shifting circumstances.
Amina Diakite and Maria Pawlak