Overwhelmed? Try Taking it “Bird by Bird”

Posted by Emma Raupp, Poetry Reader for 8.1

Writing only seems simple. Each day we casually compose texts, tweets, posts, and reviews but as soon as we’re expected to break out our professional writer’s voice for an assignment, the pressure is on. Despite my experience writing papers for high school and college, I still find myself staring at a blank Word document, struck by the need to write something brilliant, but terribly unsure of where to begin. I can see a fuzzy mental image of all the brilliant points I want to make; however, I’m so overwhelmed by my ambitions that I’m having trouble materializing it. The confidence I’ve carefully curated over the years evaporates, leaving lackluster doubt where my words should be. Sound familiar? Well, read on.

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Finding Inspiration Through Sylvia Plath’s Poetry

Posted by Aliyha Gill, Poetry Reader for 8.1

As a poet, I’m always looking for inspiration from other writers. I search for words, images, and techniques that I can borrow and make my own. So when I recently found myself in a writing rut, I dove into the poetry section of Barnes & Noble. Once I discovered Sylvia Plath’s poetry, I quickly noticed how it was riddled with enticing lines. Pen in hand, I jotted down every word or phrase that caught my eye. By the time I was finished, I’d read her poetry collections “Ariel” and “The Colossus” in their entirety. As a whole, her poems have melancholy tones, including “Morning Star,” which was written for her daughter, Frieda. Her stanzas are relatively short and her poems rarely exceed three pages. Plath tended to personify nature in her writing. She writes, “whoever heard a sunset yowl like that,” “let the stars Plummet to their dark address” (“Magi”), “the moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary,” (“Purdah”), and  “by day, only the topsoil heaves” (“The Colossus”) are all great examples of this technique. 

I also noticed that she used the following words/phrases in more than one poem:

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In Defense of Fantasy

Posted by Cal Hoag, CNF Editor for 8.1

The first books I remember actively reading were a series of children’s books called Dragon Slayers’ Academy by Kate McMullan. These goofy kids’ books kicked off a life-long love affair with the fantasy genre. I’ve read everything there is to read, from young adult fantasy like Harry Potter and Eragon, to classics like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and even contemporary masterpieces like my all-time favorite book: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. All this to say that I have a significant personal bias for the genre, and genre fiction in general, and so I take offense to the way it’s often looked down on across academia.

Although it isn’t always appropriate for a literary journal like Gandy Dancer, genre fiction, and fantasy in particular, is an interesting and important aspect of the literary world that’s often overlooked in favor of realistic literature, which is considered more valid. This view can end up being super condescending. Literary purists should reconsider fantasy, and, if they don’t enjoy it, perhaps find a way to respect it.

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Author of “To Keep from Undressing” Visits SUNY Geneseo for Fall 2019 Literary Forum Reading

Posted by Natalie Hayes, Managing Editor for 8.1

On October 21st, SUNY Geneseo hosted its second Literary Forum Reading of the semester wherein Professor Lytton Smith introduced Aisha Sharif, a Cave Canem fellow and Pushcart Prize recipient, to read from her debut poetry collection, To Keep from Undressing. Given Sharif is an African American Muslim woman who was raised in Bible Belt, the collection tackles the issues closest to Sharif—that is, identities and the intersection of said identities. She, both in the collection and in the reading, outlines the strange spaces she’s occupied as a result of being both African American and Muslim. (To hear more about this from the poet herself, check out her interview with The Kansas City Star.)

Sharif’s reading felt, at times, like a TED Talk; she showed family photographs and told childhood stories in between poems, making her story and consequent poetry feel all the more tangible. She sang a haunting song when she read a deeply emotional poem about a boy ripping off her hijab on the school bus, and I mean that literally—she sang the poem, and it was striking. That same evocative, lingering hum comes through in her work even without her singing it, though; there’s a profound sense of simultaneous pain and pride in Sharif’s reflections on her identity and, too, in the life-long pursuit, both in its wins and its loses, of that identity.

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The Versatility of the English Major

Posted by Julia Caldwell, Poetry Reader for 8.1

It’s your first year in college. You’re a business administration major and an athlete practicing more than fifteen hours a week. You’re discovering that the amount of work you did in high school will not suffice for college-level academics. Furthermore, you’re not a “test person.” You meet with your advisor. He tells you to either switch majors or transfer. You are lost and feel like a part of you that was solidified for so long, has been taken out from under you in an instant. Then you remember how much you loved your 11th grade English class. You switch your major to English and the following years are filled with close readings, endless writing, and interesting discussions. You’re finally doing well and you’re happy. But when Senior year comes, you have no idea what you can do with this degree.

English majors…what do they really do? Read? Write? Sit in a circle and dive into texts? Continue reading

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You’ve Only Got 100 Words… Go!

Posted by Emma Corwin, Fiction Reader for 8.1

Do you like short stories? How short? Ten pages? Two? How about 100 words? That’s right. A complete little story the length of a paragraph, wrapped in a tiny box with a bow on top—all in just 100 words. Can it be done?

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Posted by Elana Evenden, Art Editor & Poetry Reader for 8.1

Art and literature are often paired together, specifically in the realm of a liberal arts major.  Being well-versed in classic literature and art has always been something that many people hold to high regards and often use as a measure for someone’s intellect.  However, when it comes to contemporary literature and art many people who defend the classics seem not to care. As art editor of Gandy Dancer for our Fall ’19 issue, I have been reflecting on just how important art is in a literary journal. Having worked on the Gandy Dancer team last year, I believe that the art helps add life to our journal. Looking through the art submissions is my absolute favorite part of the Gandy Dancer production process. It is so exciting to see students’ creative eye and work from all different areas of life among different SUNY Schools. Continue reading

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Fearing the Unknown: Let Your Characters Guide the Way

Posted by RebeccaWilliamson, GD Fiction Editor for  8.1

 

Road at night

I could barely see a few feet in front of me. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the streetlights provided little light as my friend and I walked down Main Street. The chilly air wrapped around me like a blanket, and I shivered when the dark shadows moved to my left. I told my friend I was scared of the dark, but quickly retracted my statement. I wasn’t scared of the dark; I feared what could be lurking in it. I feared the unknown.

That’s how I felt that night walking down Main Street waiting for something to jump out at me. That’s how I feel when I’m lying in bed at night and I hear a loud bang and wonder if someone is in the house. Mostly, I’ve realized that’s how I feel about my writing.

How could a person fear their own writing? Continue reading

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Author of “Choke Box: A Fem Noir” visits SUNY Geneseo for Fall 2019 Literary Forum Reading

Posted by Sandy Brahaspat, GD CNF Reader for 8.1

Professor Christina Milletti

On October 4th, SUNY Geneseo Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing, Dr. Lytton Smith, hosted the first Fall semester’s Literary Forum Reading and introduced Buffalo-based writer, Christina Milletti, author of Choke Box: A Fem-Noir and winner of the Juniper Prize for Fiction in 2019.

In her reading of her latest novel, Milletti described Choke Box: A Fem-Noir as a rant about the dangers of silencing the voices of women. Milletti’s novel is ardently feminist and contains distinguishable lines that remain with the reader: “Women, don’t trust the men in your lives, and trust the women even less.” Continue reading

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Meet the New Managing Editors

Natalie Hayes (left) and Nicole Callahan (right)

A new school year means new managing editors for Gandy Dancer! Natalie Hayes and Nicole Callahan interview each other and offer readers some insight into what the year will bring.

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