Author Archives: Gandy Dancer Staff

St. John Fisher’s Best of The Angle leads to revival of journal as ANGLES

Posted by Oliver Diaz, Managing Editor

Like a shot of espresso, a Best Of issue is a short burst of concentrated content. Dynamic and packed with the best fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and cover art of the last 25 years, Best of The Angle is St. John Fisher’s literary espresso shot. Published in 2016, the anthology also features interviews with the authors alongside their revived writings spanning back to as early as 1956 and as late as 2011.

The joy of a Best Of compilation is in the consistent quality and The Angle delivers in all forms. Tom Hughes’ poem “OINK,” published in 1967, recalls the counter-culture during the Vietnam War, and, like all the work in the anthology, is complimented by an interview in which the author expounds upon his inspiration. On the other hand, full of emotion, distress, and mystery, Emilio Lopez’s story “Reluctant Brother” explores the relationship between two brothers as one tries to call the other back to the family. Lopez’s story is patient, chilling, and, according to him, verges toward the Twilight Zone. Continue reading

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Sleep, Dream, Write: The Writer’s Routine

Posted by Oliver Diaz, Former Contributor and Fiction Reader for Issue 4.1

The truth is writers (besides Stephen King) cannot survive on writing alone due to their limited ability to pump out a plethora of valuable literary works, and ultimately, the meager financial compensation. When a writer has another job, another commitment, another pot on the stove, writing takes the back burner. As a student, I rearrange reading, writing papers, and going to class on my stovetop, and writing remains relegated to the back of the stove. Why? Well, my schedule tells me when to show up for class, and when to leave. I have to do my work before class, so although the time frame is not exact, it is narrowed. If writers don’t decide (and yes, the responsibility is on us) on a timeframe to sit down and write, how can we expect ourselves to show up?

The writer’s most feared question is, “Have you been writing lately?” Often the response is, “I will once I find the time,” or “I’m going to find time this weekend.” Well, one day I found myself on the receiving end of this question and took the predicted way out. The inquiring artist looked at me with a knowing stare, and said, “We don’t find time, we make time.” Of course, I thought to myself, time is not hiding around corners, behind bushes, or at the bottom of the laundry basket, I am making time, as in “Sure, I can make time for that.”

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The War on Math

Posted by Melanie Weissman, CNF Reader and Art Curator for Issue 4.1

I’m not a math person.”

It’s a statement we’ve all probably heard, if not spoken, multiple times throughout our lives. The sentiment seems ubiquitous among literary types like me. Why is that?

Numerous sources claim that the idea of some people being more inclined to natural mathematical talent than others is a lie and anyone can be a math person if he would just quit whining and put some effort into his studies already. I’m far from an expert on the workings of the human brain, so I’m in no position to contest that, but I can say that in my personal experience, when I’ve said that I wasn’t a math person, I haven’t merely been stating that I found math harder than other academic subjects (though I certainly do); I’ve also been expressing that I just plain don’t like math.

blog imageI guess that’s not entirely true; I do enjoy math in some capacities. I’m a big fan of Sudoku and those logic puzzles where you have to figure out who drives which car or who saw which movie. Even the less glamorous parts of math, the geometry and trigonometry and calculus, aren’t the absolute worst things in the world. (Algebra is pretty bad, though. Algebra can die in a fiery pit.) I suppose I’d rather find a derivative than clean my room. Rationally speaking, I know I shouldn’t have that much of a problem (if you’ll excuse the pun) with math, so why do I often feel the need to tell people those dreaded five words: “I’m not a math person”?

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Interview with the Author of Slats: The Life and Legend of Jimmy Slattery, Richard Blake

Posted by Jordan Keane, CNF Reader for Issue 4.1

Alright, let’s face it: writing is difficult.

It’s hair-pulling, teeth-grinding, insomnia-inducing, head-on-the-desk difficult. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but sometimes it can feel like an abyss of technique, structure, style, and voice from which it is impossible to draw words.

In 2008 at the Buffalo Irish Center, I had the opportunity to talk to someone I now hold in high esteem, author and a family friend, Rich Blake, about this struggle. My father mentioned that Blake had recently published his nonfiction novel, The Day Donny Herbert Woke Up, and encouraged me to talk to him. Though at first I was nervous, once we got to talking about writing and publishing, I was overcome with excitement. From that conversation, I took away a piece of his advice:

Don’t go back. Don’t edit. Don’t revise. Don’t read what you’ve already written. Just keep writing ‘til you’re done. Then go back.

I carry this mantra with me. In the seven years since, I’ve continued my journey as a writer, and have found myself as a nonfiction editor for our lovely Gandy Dancer. In light of Blake’s recent publication, Slats: The Life and Legend of Jimmy Slattery, it only felt natural to reach out for some insight into the world of writing. Continue reading

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On Mirrors: Diversity in Children’s and YA Fiction

Posted by Katherine Zito, CNF Reader for Issue 4.1

Reading, for many people, is about escape. That’s probably the reason I’d have given you if you’d asked me why I loved to read when I was a little girl, slyly (or so I thought) turning the pages of a novel underneath my desk as my elementary school teachers droned on about fractions. But as I matured a little, I realized that wasn’t quite the case. It was fun to escape to fantastical locales or go on adventures I never would, but books were also a way to grapple with the world, not simply escape from it–to see the issues that I dealt with in my life and in my mind reflected in a way that helped me make sense of them. The characters I loved the most, as I grew into adolescence, weren’t aspirational larger-than-life heroes, but characters I could relate to. Adolescence is a time of identity-building, and literature is a place many teenagers turn to figure stuff out. It is for this reason that diversity–in representations of race, gender, LGBT-status, disability, mental illness, and other ranges of experience–in young adult fiction is so vitally important.

In my eyes, the purpose of storytellingRue_points_out_the_nest was grander than mere entertainment, and it wasn’t until I came across the words of writer Junot Diaz that I understood, clearly and powerfully, the importance of diverse stories: “There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror.  And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, ‘Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?’ And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might seem themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.” Continue reading

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Gandy Dancer 4.1 Preview!

Posted by Alanna Kaplan, Nonfiction Reader for Issue 4.1

Attention all lovers of fiction, creative non­fiction, art, and poetry! After months of hard work, deliberations and debates, Gandy Dancer 4.1 is finally here and ready. The copies you can’t wait to get your hands on are now available on Amazon and will be at our upcoming launch party, December 18th from 1 to3 PM in Geneseo’s Hunt Room.

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A sneak peak at the 4.1 cover!

We had a plethora of incredible pieces to choose from this year, with the poetry readers in particular grappling with an influx of poems (who said poetry was dead?) and we are incredibly proud to share the finished product. Readers will find pieces that speak to them individually, with some employing sharp introspection, others engaging in deep historical connections and all possessing a unique edge and fresh take on life’s greatest pleasures and pains.

Our Featured Artist this semester is Thomas John Magnus, whose photography forces its viewer to take pause in the richness of color, contrast, and distinctive angles. In one photo in particular, “Untitled,” we see Main Street’s own Livingston County Appliance. While many Geneseo students have walked past the shop many times, the way Magnus captures the scene leaves viewers wondering how we could have missed its true beauty.

Another piece that begs the reader to question whether they have fully appreciated an oft ignored beauty is the non­fiction piece “Hermit” by Kira Gregory, full of images of nature that force us into feeling as though we are walking right alongside her as she treks through the woods.

Should we need a break from reality, the short story “Bones” by Allison Giese is a promising cure, with narration and a slow build­up to a crushing climax that leaves readers on the edge of their seat. Giese’s use of setting is so convincing, the story feels real and vivid.

While our issue is incredibly diverse, with submissions from SUNY campuses throughout New York State including Fredonia, PolyTechnic, New Paltz, Geneseo, MCC, CCC, Stony Brook, Brockport, and Oswego, the journal builds bridges between art, poetry, non­fiction and fiction. We hope that readers will be as awestruck by these literary offerings as we were when choosing them and placing them within Gandy Dancer 4.1.

 

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Issue 4.1 Launch Party!

Friends of Gandy Dancer, we invite you to our launch party for Issue 4.1! We have been working diligently all semester to bring this issue of GD together, and we’re pleased to announce that we will be presenting our finished journal at the launch party on December 18 from 1 to 3 p.m. As you may know, Gandy Dancer publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art from writers and artists all over the SUNY system. Our launch party serves as an opportunity to bring this vibrant writing community together to celebrate the publication of our latest issue, and we couldn’t be more excited!

Print copies of the fall issue will be hot off the press and available for purchase. Join us for readings by the authors of 4.1, food and drink, and the opportunity to pick up your very own Gandy swag. Brendan Mahoney, Sara Munjack, Robbie Held, Jeremy A. Jackson, and others will be attending to read their stories, essays, and poems. Brunch food and other light refreshments will be provided. And you can’t miss our spread of Gandy swag—pencils, mugs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, pins, and more. Additionally, partygoers will be able to buy raffle tickets for $3 to enter to win a holiday basket with a T-shirt, mug, and brand new copy of Issue 4.1. We hope to see you there!

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FUSE Conference Allows Geneseo to Showcase Student Publications

Posted by Lea Karnath, Managing Editor for Issue 4.1

In early November, two representatives from Gandy Dancer, myself and Keara Hagerty, the founder of Guerilla Poetry, Evan Goldstein, and Katie Bockino, the editor of MiNT, all took a six-hour road trip. Our destination? Chester, Pennsylvania to participate in the Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE) Conference held at Widener University. The two-day conference was filled with presentations about literary journals from institutions across the United States, both big and small, including Susquehanna University, Cabrini College, Virginia Commonwealth University, Mary Baldwin College, University of California, Los Angeles, and several more.

Evan, Keara, Lea, and Katie at FUSE

FUSE is a national organization that provides a network for undergraduate student editors and writers along with their faculty advisers. Their mission is “to foster visionary magazine work and to support undergraduates who are eager to pursue careers in writing, publishing, and editing.” Each year, FUSE hosts a national conference where undergraduates share their experiences with the world of editing.

This year’s conference theme, “Will You Look at That?: Aesthetics and the World of Undergraduate Publications,” allowed Keara and me to think more deeply about how we want to impact readers when they pick up a copy of our publication.

Our presentation entitled “Looks Matters/Looks Matter: Finding a Niche in a Robust Literary Community” explored the varying aesthetics each Geneseo publication offers. Evan discussed how the barebones aesthetic of Guerilla encourages discourse about controversial topics; works appear in unconventional places such as academic hallways and even bathroom stalls to catch the attention of a student or faculty member who may not typically pick up a standard literary publication. Next, Katie spoke about MiNT, referring to the publication as a “utilitarian booklet” of writing about multicultural experiences. Lastly, Keara and I discussed how Gandy Dancer strives to look professional with hopes of attracting both readers and writers while upholding our mission: “to forge connections between people and places” through literature and art. Our aesthetic, clean and simple, aims to honor the work we receive from SUNY students.

Although the three publications—Gandy Dancer, Guerilla, and MiNT—differ in content and mission statements, there is a sense of community and interconnectedness. Evan and Katie have been previously published in Gandy Dancer. Evan also currently holds a section editor position in poetry for Gandy Dancer and has been published in MiNT. We all share a passion for good writing.

Our presentation also discussed some of Gandy Dancer’s obstacles. While other undergraduate publications talked about receiving funds through their school’s English Departments (or even being paid as a student editor), we discussed the challenges that comes along with no funding. Even so, Gandy Dancer is still able to attract SUNY students to submit their work. This is not only impressive for an undergraduate publication, but also for a public school where our art department—along with that of other SUNY schools—has been cut from the curriculum. We want to serve students by providing an outlet to express their creativity whether it be in the form of art or the written word.

The conference’s presentations covered an array of topics such as selection processes, physical vs. online journals, and even featured a business plan about creating corporate sponsorships within the surrounding community. Speaking about Gandy Dancer and showcasing past journals made us feel proud and confident in saying: “Yes, literary journals are still relevant and an important means of expression, even today.”

For more information about FUSE, check out the FUSE National website: http://www.fuse-national.com/

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Taken in by the Music

Posted by Giovanni Madonna, Fiction Reader for Issue 4.1

Have you ever read a book and found, either at the end or the beginning, a page marked “Songs that got me through this book” or other similar titles? A surprising number of the books I’ve read recently seem to have a page dedicated to the playlist that the author used while writing, which got me curious. How exactly does music effect our brains? What is it about music that triggers inspiration and motivates us to write? Even now, while writing this post, I have my headphones in and am listening to an upbeat, catchy tune. For me, this kind of active music is what gets my fingers moving, but why is that? As it turns out, we’re still not entirely sure, but there have been some interesting discoveries as to how the brain changes while listening to music.

According to Medical Daily musicis unique because it appeals to our brains in a way that random background noise doesn’t, due to its repetitiveness and organization. The brain takes in this organized noise and is able to interpret it on a number of levels, stimulating the release of dopamine while also activating the parts of the brain responsible for memory and planning.

Fast Company builds on this by explaining that the brain is even capable of allowing people to identify the emotions of a song without actually feeling them themselves. An example of this would be listening to a sad song and recognizing it as sad, but still being able to be happy listening to it because it sounds good to you. It was even found that listening to music at a moderate volume stimulates the brain in a way that is ideal for creative ventures. The explanation for this is that music at a mid-level volume puts a slight strain on the brain, making it move from ordinary reasoning to more abstract problem solving. In other words, it forces the brain to consider what’s in front of it in a more creative way.featured image from CNN

So if you’re ever in a rut and are trying to find something to get the wheels turning, try popping in a pair of headphones and listening to some of your favorite songs on a moderate volume. While all music has an effect on our brains, it shouldn’t be surprising to find that songs we like have a much bigger impact than random pieces. Let your self be taken in by the music, don’t just passively listen to it, feel whatever emotions it brings to the surface. See what memories and ideas float by, and allow yourself to struggle till your brain can take all that input and find a solution.

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Will That Be Paper or Plastic?: How We Read Now

Posted by Alex Herman, Art Curator and Nonfiction Reader for Issue 4.1

I remember very vividly the thrill of dragging my mother into bookstores as a kid. It didn’t matter if it was the corner shop in the mall or the Borders bookstore two towns over, if there were books in the window, we had to stop there. I’d spend forever perusing the shelves, my fingers dancing over the spines, yearning for a new story, and, if I was lucky, finding one my mother would let me take home.

Nowadays, though, I’m lucky if I can even find a store.

It’s undeniable that we are now smack dab in the middle of the digital age. Between cell phones, laptops, and tablets, everyone seems to begandy blog (1) plugged into one device or another at any given time. As a result bookstores, and by extent, printed books, have seemingly fallen to the wayside in favor of their digital counterparts. But are these ebooks really as superior as sellers like to claim? Is it possible that we, in our lifetimes, could witness something as timeless as printed books go completely obsolete?

Not if I can help it. Continue reading

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