Here in Geneseo, the start of November brings about a few changes. First, the leaves that once mesmerized us with their stunning bursts of oranges, yellows, and reds, begin falling into crunchy piles strewn across campus. Secondly, as the workload picks up, so does the wind. In spite of the falling temperatures and messy hair days, we trudge on, knowing that what we have in store for us is worth any uphill climb.
It’s sentiments like those—trudging up a seemingly never-ending hill—that we try to remember as we put together Issue 4.1 of Gandy Dancer. The process starts at the beginning of the semester, similar to most undergraduate journals. For us though, it’s a little different. Gandy Dancer is created in a class by students with an interest in good literature and the editing process. We begin the semester by reviewing past Gandy Dancer issues and offering ideas for what we think we can change or incorporate in the coming weeks. Herein lies the beauty and difficulty—with every semester, classes change, which means the Gandy Dancer team gets a whole new set of editors and a new pair of managing editors. This has a wonderful effect, because it means Gandy Dancer never goes stale. Every semester we have around thirty fresh, excited, and curious minds to gather, discuss, and edit works. It’s always interesting to see, with each new cast, the ways Gandy Dancer shifts according to current tastes and personalities. However, this also presents some difficulties in terms of aesthetic consistency—both in the look and content of the journal. As the semester goes on and we begin devouring work, the hard labor begins, but this labor—soliciting work, corresponding with authors, and discussing pieces—is part of the great pleasure of creating Gandy Dancer.
After attending the Forum for Undergraduate Editors conference (FUSE) at Widener University this past month and meeting with some of the best undergraduate journals nationwide, we realized that while Gandy Dancer shares many of the same concerns as the other journals, our journey to publication is unique. At FUSE we were introduced to many student publications whose budgets for distributions, advertising, and compensation for writers is impressive. In particular, all of these publications were able to distribute widely and give contributors away copies for free, something we would love to be able to do. This inability, though, to provide people with free copies of Gandy Dancer pushes us even harder to provide a beautifully crafted home for the amazing talent from across the SUNY system. Although there have been recent cuts to a number of art departments, including Geneseo’s, Gandy Dancer will still continue to seek out and showcase visual art. This proved to be a challenge for us this semester, though, as we no longer have art studio majors on our campus. Gandy Dancer 4.1, like the issues before, proves that the arts are important to SUNY students, and luckily for us many have a desire to create beautiful and thought provoking work. We feel fortunate to gather this work between our covers.
As always, we received hundreds of amazing submissions from students across New York State, and deciding which ones to publish was a difficult task. Many of the pieces in this issue deal with important and pressing topics, such as conspicuous consumption and human wastefulness, transgender issues, mental illness, alienation and loss. The connection we felt to each of these pieces, and the curiosity to explore that connection is what ultimately compelled our choices for Gandy Dancer’s seventh issue. FUSE Keynote speaker Lise Funderburg discussed the importance of curiosity for the writer—an aspect of writing that clearly emerged while reading this year’s submissions. The work examines a variety of topics in fresh ways and reveals the writers’ own curiosity. The creativity, originality, and thoughtfulness of the work left us thinking about these pieces long after we finished reading. We hope the work collected here evokes the same response from you, and that the ideas and images float in your mind even after you’ve closed this issue of Gandy Dancer.
Keara & Leanora
Managing Editors, Fall 2015