As we careen into the future and reflect on our time spent as student editors, we’ve come to realize that there’s a lot more to celebrate in our daily lives than what’s immediately perceptible. The small things, as much as the big events, are worthy of celebration, if not cake and confetti. We consider ourselves lucky. Not only are we fortunate to have an institution such as SUNY Geneseo to serve as a home for Gandy Dancer, but we are also lucky to have the support and passion of faculty members as a driving force behind our work—providing and creating opportunities for students to explore the myriad literary avenues that pique our curiosity. Equally as important is the sense of community that surrounds us, not just in Geneseo, but throughout the entire SUNY system.We celebrate the opportunity to surround ourselves with the diverse company of fellow writers, poets, and artists—to feel a part of something special and evolving. We’ve learned that being literary citizens means supporting not only ourselves, but also one another. We’ve learned how to dissolve the limits of our own personal taste, creating a richer and wider landscape of voices, and most importantly, we’ve come to understand that the act of celebration can and should be a conscious choice—one that defines how we live and interpret the world in which we participate. Celebration means going to every local reading, workshop, and lecture that we’re able to attend—just this semester we had the pleasure of hearing Leslie Pietrzyk, Sonja Livingston, Carey McHugh, and Camille Rankine, amongst others. Celebration is the act of listening when new voices emerge, and the resolution to pursue the joy of writing, even while the debate over whether or not poetry is dead rages on.
Throughout our time as Managing Editors, we’ve experienced this type of joy firsthand. From reading the tremendous submissions we received this spring, to our impassioned discussions over the proper usage of a hyphen and the order of our pieces, we’ve grown into first-class celebrators. As editors of a student-led magazine, we’re in the unique position of providing a home for emerging writers to help shape a larger literary terrain. In this note to you, our readers, we want to draw attention to, and honor, the important work being done by student editors elsewhere. We find inspiration in the evocative and diverse writing within The Adroit Journal, whose founder and Editor-in-Chief, Peter LaBerge, is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, and whose current Managing Editor, Lucia LoTempio, previously edited our very own Gandy Dancer. We also want to salute other female editors and writers, who, with the help of committed organizations like VIDA, are continuously working to foster a more diverse collection of voices and perspectives. We want to send some virtual confetti and cake out to small, independent presses everywhere, starting with the innovative and welcoming array we saw at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair this year. And last, but certainly not least, we want to celebrate the work that we’re so proud to feature in this issue.
“We need to clean the window,” begins the first poem in this issue, Evan Goldstein’s “Standing at the Sill, the Sun is Weak & Dropping,” inviting us to come and look again, to brush off our lenses and behold. Thus encouraged to turn both inward and outward, we’re led through a meandering yet precise series of light, first “dusk light,” then “hyacinth light,” and lastly “warm light,” where we might kick off our shoes and forget about the coming day and the departing past. We are proud to present several poems in this issue that experiment with form and introduce structural challenges, because we believe that an innovative departure from formalized poetic structures is just as important as honoring traditional conventions.
The creative nonfiction pieces featured in this issue also encourage introspection. These essays connect us to particular moments within our lives, and force us to examine the intricacies of human nature. “The Amorphous Children,” by Lauren Sarrantonio, offers a meditative perspective on the nebulous nature of childhood, while “Onliness,” by Christine Davis, explores the tension between familial relationships and the desire for independence. In a thoughtful departure, Brendan Mahoney’s “What Are You Laughing at?” uses comedic theory as a lens to call attention to the negative implications of our rhetoric. And finally, in the quietly heartbreaking “Sonder,” Margaret Thon explores the very trait that makes us human—our desire to relay and record stories.
In fiction we travel from a French restaurant in New York, to a coastal village in the Fujian Province, to an obstetrician’s office, and even to a metaphoric house on a hill. Amelia McNally’s “In Now” creates a meta-space in which the reader is asked to consider the way stories are constructed from the reconciliation of possibility and inevitability. In Jiaming Tang’s “Stone Village,” the reader confronts an approaching threat through the perspectives of several characters, eventually being led to redefine the very meaning of danger, “wishing for nothing but to flutter outside and into the storm.”
We were blown away by the variety of compelling art submissions we welcomed this spring. We’ve never received so many mixed media submissions before, and in reflection of that, we are excited to put forth an issue full of thought-provoking and distinctive artwork. We’re thrilled to publish four pieces from our featured artist, Lei Peng Gan, whose paintings and prints challenge our understanding of how space and perception operate together—a function of memory. In her acrylic painting, “Temperature in White No. 8,” this SUNY Plattsburgh artist creates an intense moment of potential energy that calls into question the balance between perceived opposites, such as cold and warmth. We celebrate these different modes and mediums of expression.
“A book is a sneeze,” E.B. White once wrote in a letter to his editor, commenting on the irrepressible and distinctly human act of storytelling. Lately, we’ve found ourselves continually returning to these words that so succinctly define creative expression: much like the work in this issue, it is urgent, unstoppable, and liberating. On that note, we’d like to leave you with an invitation to an ongoing and open-ended celebration, with the hope that you’ll find something in this issue that will give you the urge to sneeze.
Yours in celebration,
Christy & Courtney (C²)
Managing Editors, Spring 2016
Christy Leigh Agrawal is a native of New York and hails from a Mid-Hudson Valley town called Hyde Park. She is in her last semester studying English literature and creative writing at SUNY Geneseo and hopes, despite looming fears of post-graduate life, to either pursue a career that relates to both poetry and civil rights law or go back in time and become a theoretical physicist who also dabbles in marine biology. She is passionate about intersectional feminism and eliminating stigmas attributed to mental illness and addiction.
Courtney O’Gorman is a senior communication major and English minor at SUNY Geneseo. She previously served as the Public Relations Manager for Gandy Dancer issue 3.2 and read both fiction and creative nonfiction for issues 3.1 and 3.2. She was born and raised in Rochester, NY and hopes to pursue a career in Public Relations upon graduation this May. When not interning or obsessing over all things Gandy related, she can be found drinking coffee, rewatching seasons of The Office on Netflix, or taking way too many quizzes on BuzzFeed.