Not long before writing this introduction, the town of Geneseo was buffeted by both its first snowfall and many subsequent rainstorms, as if to say, “Wait a minute, winter isn’t here yet!” Through this confusing weather, the staff of Gandy Dancer trudged their way regardless of rain, snow, or shine, to work on our lovely magazine. We, your managing editors, both commend the determination of our staff and the courage of all writers and artists who submitted—there were many passionate discussions about what to publish this year!
Though COVID-19 appears to be slowly but surely releasing its hold on the local community, that hasn’t stopped the latest national and global news from troubling the minds of SUNY students. In this era of information technology, we encourage all to remain informed, but to also remember to breathe, reflect, and think about your own health and wellbeing. You may find that the works in this issue ask you to consider that perhaps the most meaningful change begins with the self.
In the prose we have collected, you will note a highlighted importance of personal growth fueled by human interaction. Aimee Maduro’s creative nonfiction piece “Drive” shows you how to find beauty in the world and solace in the people close to you, as she writes, “it was hard to know which direction was easier to look in; the heavy crescent and knowing winks in the sky, or the gentle hands beside me gripping the steering wheel.” Alternatively, Martin Dolan’s fiction story “Donato’s,” utilizes the rhythm of breathing, “One, two. One, two. One, two,” to center the story on the idea of prioritizing the self. Whichever you prefer, the potential for healing is multitudinous, and you will find many examples in this issue.
We encourage you to find solace in the people and writing that care for you, and to not forget that “people can be resting places / Soft places to land, to hang up your hat / And be washed of the day’s dust,” as Ashley Halm writes in her poem “Ode to a Cowboy.” We encourage you to let the poetry of Gandy Dancer remind you that you are allowed to begin the process of healing yourself, in spite of what is occurring all around us. We also hope that the work collected here reminds you that you are allowed to be angry about what is happening, just as Mollie McMullan’s poem “Lockdown Lockdown Lockdown” bleeds rage with the lines: “They think of mothers as expendable, / a mere body, / a husk bisected by birth, / a skin that can be shed.”
Themes of healing wrap around the prose, poetry, and art of this edition. The writers and artists featured recognize that this process is not easy. It does not happen all at once. Art, however, can be a start. And as we fall into the impenetrable cold of winter in New York, we hope that Gandy Dancer can act as a crackling fireplace, or at the very least a warm coat. May your reading bring you the feeling of being recognized that we felt while reading and allow for a healing process that continues into the new year.
Elizabeth Roos and Julia Grunes