Author Archives: Cam Rustay

The Learning Curve: Reflecting on Growth as an Editor

Posted by Nicole Callahan, GD Fiction Reader for 7.1

Ask any writer about their writing from high school and their general reactions are likely to be the same: embarrassment. As a general rule of thumb, working in any creative field is a never-ending, slow upward climb that can make the experience of looking back either gratifying or mortifying (and sometimes both). My different experiences working on literary magazines have taught me similar lessons about being an editor.

My high school was very small, but our literary magazine, The Mast, had been around for decades. The club was run by our English teacher, Mr. Seffick, a patient soul who suffered alongside us on our creative journey.

 One of the most obvious distinction between The Mast and Gandy Dancer is the disparity in resources. The Mast was lucky to hold a meeting of 10 members and submissions largely came from the staff. The class that produces Gandy Dancer is lucky to have 20+ students and can still feel under-staffed sometimes. The Mast did not use Adobe InDesign. Instead, we would physically lay out the magazine and then entrust the physical copy it to the two students who knew how to work Photoshop. Our online presence was nil simply because we didn’t have the time or understanding to create a good blog, though our technical squad did occasionally post videos calling for submissions. Continue reading

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Is Poetry Dying?

Posted by Elana Evenden , GD Creative Non-Fiction Reader for 7.1

In several of my English classes this semester, professors have raised this question: Will people continue to read poetry that hasn’t been assigned for a class? This question has me thinking that maybe poetry is a changing art form and accessible to readers in new ways. We’ve all been there in those sad, angst-filled teenage years where ‘no one understood you.’ What other way to get your feelings out than some sappy, crappy poetry? So, let us be honest, poetry has all made its way into our lives as a way to rant our feelings, reading assignments, or through music, rap or slam poetry. Therefore, can poetry ever truly die or just evolve?

 People may no longer want to read the classics for fun, but poetry is available and expressed on a whole new medium in 2018. This being said, it may be sad for many seeing that poetry is not promoted the way it used to be. When one steps into Barnes and Noble, only the popular best sellers are up front. Poetry is normally pushed to a back corner in an unorganized way making stumbling across a good book of poetry almost impossible. Personally, I believe this goes hand in hand with the idea of big businesses. Independent bookstores are dying out, while larger scale bookstores are focused on making a name for the company more so than the literature available. Barnes and Noble is not what it used to be in this digital age. Perhaps the concept of holding a book has changed to people as kindles and iPhones are much more readily available than carrying around a book. Continue reading

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Writing into Your Fear

Posted by Hannah McSorley, GD Fiction Reader for 7.1

At the beginning of this semester I decided I was going to do things that I was scared to do—and number one on that list: write a creative nonfiction essay about being born without some of the muscles in my left leg.

This is not a new topic for me. In fact, most of my early childhood writing attempts took on this topic. Despite my numerous attempts to use writing, specifically fiction, as a tool to understand and communicate my experience, I always ended up abandoning what I’d written. This time I decided that nonfiction was the way to approach this material. I determined that I would see my essay through to a final draft, even if I decided not to share it. Continue reading

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The Art of Rejection

Posted by Bri Forgione, GD Poetry Editor for 7.1

Rejection is everywhere. Rejection is inevitable. We experience it in relationships, job interviews, writing submissions, and much more. Some experience rejection more than others, and some people handle it in different ways from one another. When it comes to rejection in creative writing, I believe it helps make a stronger writer. In her poem “One Art,” Elizabeth Bishop writes “the art of losing isn’t hard to master.” “Lose something every day,” she advises, “Then practice losing farther, losing faster.” In terms of rejection, we want Elizabeth Bishop to be right. However, we often find ourselves feeling disheartened and hearing the same seven words, “Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it,” doesn’t help. Continue reading

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5 Tips to Strengthen your Submission

Posted by Tyler Waldriff, GD Fiction Reader for 7.1

While every story is enjoyable in its own right, it is inevitable that some submissions will be better than others. Potential and current submitters may be asking themselves, “How do I make my submission stand out?” or, “How can I improve my submission’s odds of acceptance?” Well, I don’t claim to be an expert here, but as a fiction reader for issue 7.1 of Gandy Dancer, I’ve spent a fair share of time digging through the slush pile analyzing each submission. From this, I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade to help discern what makes a strong submission stand out amongst the rest. With that being said, here are five things to keep in mind when writing and revising to strengthen your fiction submission. Continue reading

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Lost in Translation: Confronting America’s Apprehension Toward International Literature

Posted by Kira Baran, GD Creative Non-Fiction Reader for 7.1

This year, SUNY Geneseo hosted a meet-the-author lecture featuring Icelandic-born novelist Ófeigur Sigurðsson. Also in attendance was SUNY Geneseo’s own Dr. Lytton Smith, who worked as a translator for Sigurðsson’s most recent publication, Oraefi: The Wasteland. Over the course of the evening, the two discussed the writing process, the translation process, and the life experiences that influenced the book.

Yet, what stands out in my memory is not Sigurðsson’s humorous comment about casting sheep (yes, the animal) as fictional characters; nor is it his serious comment about climate change’s threat to transform Iceland into a volcanic “inferno.” No—even the latter statement was arguably less jarring than one simple statistic the author shared regarding America’s own threatening environment: that only three percent of the books marketed in the United States are translated texts. Continue reading

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Revision: The Gift that Keeps on Giving (me sleepless nights)

Posted by Connor Keihl, GD Creative Non-Fiction Editor for 7.1

Last semester, Spring 2018, I took a fiction workshop with Professor Kristen Gentry. I was excited to try my hand at fiction. However, this was a particularly interesting workshop because we were told that we’d only be writing one story for the entire semester. Working with one story over the course of fifteen weeks meant dedicating plenty of time to revision.

Neil Gaiman, author of Coraline, defined what he sees as the process of revision: “finish the short story, print it out, then put it in a drawer and write other things. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.” This is a sentiment I’ve heard echoed by many different writers, but often, for students, this process isn’t an option. Continue reading

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Writing Outside Your Genre

Posted by Gabrielle Esposito, GD Fiction Editor for 7.1

I identify as a fiction writer because I’m too self-conscious to write nonfiction, and I can’t write poetry because I don’t know when to shut up. I’ve found in the writing community that writers have preferred genres, and once that preference is identified, all the other genres disappear. Most of a writer’s hesitation comes from the fact that the three genres are very different. Continue reading

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A Less Than Perfect World

Posted by Courtney Statt, GD Poetry Reader for 7.1

     Years ago when dystopian fiction became the new thing, I fell in love with the world that James Dashner created in the Maze Runner Series. I read the series, then re-read the series, and told everyone who stood still for a second to–you guessed it—to read the series. As a kid, I always had a book in hand–some things never change–and in all my searching, I had never found characters that felt as real to me as the ones in Maze Runner. They were the first characters that I read that didn’t feel like characters in a book; they were my friends.

   Flash forward to February of this year… Continue reading

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Beauty and the Beast: A Review of Kai Carlson-Wee’s RAIL

Posted by Abby Barrett, GD Poetry Reader for 7.1

In Kai Carlson-Wee’s RAIL, desperate yet autonomous speakers view the beautiful landscapes of western America from the vantage point of moving trains, and their journeys illustrate how U.S. capitalistic values destroy this same landscape and the human dreams within. The speakers in Carlson-Wee’s poems observe pollution, watch animals die, and smoke crystal meth; they embrace a lover, listen mournfully to the loon’s cry, and self-medicate with orange juice and oatmeal. There is at once a drive for existence in these speakers; “Her breath made me shake. / It was full of so much life. For the next / few days I could hear it in every word I said” (67), and yet, a fear of what this life holds: “We are held in a light so perfect it grows inconsistent. / Becomes like the windwheel cries on the prairie” (46). Continue reading

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