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11.2 | Dear Readers

Dear Readers,

Another semester folds to a close as we welcome you to the 11.2 issue of our wonderful Gandy Dancer magazine. As this is our second semester as managing editors, it is also our last, and though we will be saying goodbye very soon, we have made it our mission to make this issue of Gandy Dancer the very best it can be.

Nostalgia tends to paint a pretty picture of the past, but, in spite of their glances backward, the works in this edition complicate that pretty picture. They look behind the facade and take down the scaffolding. For example, in Mollie McMullan’s creative nonfiction “The God-Fearing Bird Feeder,” the narrator reflects upon the meaning of her interactions with distressed birds throughout her life. These are brief moments, however, they reveal something about our narrator and her conception of motherhood.

Some of the work here takes readers to the literal past, like Greta Flanagan’s short story “Kiss to the Fist,” which mixes train-hopping with the loss of innocence in a way that feels contemporary despite taking place decades ago. Others, like Kiely Caulfield’s “Nesting,” takes readers into the minds of children who replace the dangers of reality with ones that are easier to accept. To them, a burned down house becomes a place where “a vampire would move in to make a nest.”

The poetry in this edition of Gandy Dancer feels quietly retrospective—some even more overtly glance backwards. Lili Gourley’s poem “Snapshot” looks back at a family vacation, mixing well-used phrases such as “Are we / there yet?” with ones that travel far beyond that phrase, such as, “Drown. Drown in your expectations. / Drown in your ability to unpack the packed.” As writers, we must also take note of what is happening in our global community. As such, we are honored to have the opportunity to include found poems about the epidemic of gun violence from a class of high schoolers from Washington DC.

The art in this issue also has something to contribute to the conversation on the passing of time. “Stretch” by Charlie Lange is a slighting haunting depiction in charcoal of a figure going through the motions of a stretch; starting from touching their toes, to reaching their hands upward in a full stretch. This figure in sequence literally shows the movement of time, as the figure moves from one position to another—perhaps also taking the viewer along in the stretch, at the same time.

As the weather warms and summer approaches, we hope to remind our readers to stretch, reflect, and to not forget the past, but also to look toward the future. To reflect, but not become lost in the memories, whether they be good or bad—but to remember that the present is what is available to us, right here and right now. The opportunity for new experiences and new memories are always with us, but that past isn’t far—and maybe all that is required is the turn of a page.


Julia Grunes and Elizabeth Roos

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Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Posted by Jess Vance, Creative Nonfiction Reader for Issue 9.2

There is a pile of unread books on my bookshelf that have been quietly mocking me for years. These are books I’ve bought (and a few borrowed from friends whom I hope don’t expect them back) with excitement. Books by authors I like, subjects which interest me; books I shouldn’t have to fight myself to read. Yet, I never seemed to have the time to start them—and then in March of 2020 we all gained a lot more free time.

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Starting A New Writing Project

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Posted by Maria Pawlak, Fiction Editor for issue 9.2

Picture this: the perfect writing playlist is pulled up on Spotify. Your favorite pen rests beside a pristine notebook (you needed another brand new one for this project, of course), and the coffee you reheated in the microwave steams gently in front of your fully charged laptop. It’s perfect. Now, you think, I’ll finally be able to start my next big writing project.

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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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Dearest Readers

Dearest Readers,

Welcome to issue 6.2 of Gandy Dancer, the twelfth in publication so far. This will be our last issue as managing editors, and we feel honored to have had the opportunity to embark on this journey with you. As we reflect on our year with Gandy Dancer, there are many things that could be said, but we want to focus on the places we started from and the places we may soon find ourselves. Where you, as a reader, may be starting a new journey as you turn this page, and where you may end up after you put the journal back on your shelf alongside other colorful covers and stories waiting to be told.

Perhaps even more than others, this issue transports us—taking us to Europe and the Middle East, the American South, to cities, and to the ocean.  The writers included here take us all over the world and take us also to more intangible, intimate places. Pouring over these pieces, we recognized a feeling that kept circulating through stories, essays, and poems—a feeling of hope for the new and a comfort in the old places and spaces. Matthew Cullen’s essay “Self on the Straßenbahn” focuses on a narrator’s time in Germany and his growing understanding of self. Marissa Canerelli’s short story, “Buckyboy” takes us to a farm where the characters come to understand the power of the natural world. Lucia LoTempio’s poem “Hometown, Unraveling” returns us to the city, and explores what it feels like to return to a place you once called home. Isabel Owen’s poem, “the space between daylight & the darkness of the east river tunnel” examines summer love and reveals just how evocative place can be.

We may feel isolated at times—as just one school in the vast SUNY system, as tiny parts of the larger literary community—which makes it necessary to travel outside of our bubbles in order to recognize this world for all its connectedness. Getting the chance to attend this year’s AWP convention served as this type of reminder for us. Although we attended panels that were seemingly disparate, we found that it was inevitable for connections to appear between them, and among the hoard of over 10,000 other writers, publishers, and educators, we still managed to repeatedly run into familiar faces. We’d like to think that Gandy Dancer has the potential to offer something similar—a vessel, perhaps, by which the vastness and odd synchronicity of the world may be exposed. We are always standing and breathing in a space—whether that be a coffee shop in early morning or so far inside the mind that for a moment, no one can reach us. We hope you find this issue to be a place of wonder: a place where you can discover bits of yourself in these pages. 


Meghan Fellows & Lily Codera

April 2018

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Dear Readers—

Welcome to the tenth issue of Gandy Dancer. If you are reading this, we’ve completed our second (and last) semester as managing editors, and we’re on our way out into the post-graduation world. Right now, we might be up to our eyelids in champagne, or waxing poetic over the golden years of our college days, or screaming into a hole in the ground while Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York” plays and the camera pulls away.

We’ll try not to get too sappy. That being said, graduating means reflecting about what we are leaving behind, and what lies ahead. Rising to the surface of these thoughts are the simple, slim volumes of Gandy Dancer we’ve helped bring into the world. Each issue of Gandy is a record of time and memory: days or years of experiences and thoughts turned into stories, essays, poetry, paintings, sculptures, and photos. Months of reading, editing, combing through hundreds of carefully-crafted works of art, selecting what we think is the best creative work from across the State University of New York system.

Working with Gandy Dancer for two semesters, we’ve come to appreciate the privilege of the unwavering support of SUNY Geneseo’s English Department—especially our patient and resourceful secretary Michele Feeley, and the Parry family, whose generous patronage allows us to honor the most accomplished essay published in Gandy Dancer during the 2016-2017 academic year. Ultimately, Gandy Dancer is the work of a family of students, faculty, and staff, who are beginning or following through on lifelong commitments to the arts and the written word.

That family, of course, extends to you, our contributors and our readers. In our last letter to you, we underscored the fact that a literary journal, especially Gandy, is a gathering place. Our goal is to act as a community for writers and readers across the state—a place to share our thoughts, our concerns, our ambitions, our fears, our lives as writers and people. Throughout the year, we’ve noticed that this idea of a journal as a gathering place, while powerful, is also passive, and doesn’t do justice to the art and writing in this issue. How can it, when to make art you must not be passive, must not simply gather, but experience, take from reality, and create something of it? How can it, when our moment in history is so shrouded with confusion, isolation, austerity, and war? Gandy Dancer is a printed gathering place, yes, but we would like to take it further; we propose this journal as a place of concentrated witness.

Over our two years in Gandy Dancer, we’ve seen the concerns of the work, and the priorities of the staff selecting it, shift deeper into explorations of the ever-growing tensions and conflicts of ordinary life. In this issue, we come face to face with the difficult truth—the sorrow—of life in America. In Nathan Lipps’ poem “Ablutions in the Dark,” we experience the slow and lonely pain of age, coupled with the cycle of Spring, the cruelty of April. Sarah Steil’s “Steadying” is a second person story that draws you into the developing relationship between a damaged mother and her daughter. Jasmine Cui’s “Apologia,” an essay on the cruelty of chance, unflinchingly portrays a family’s struggle with disability and alcoholism. Peggy Wen’s exquisite, contemplative paintings and sketches bring us into quotidian, abandoned domestic spaces, and into the gaze of resolute, yet isolated women. While this issue succeeds in confronting dark truths, there are lighter shades to explore, such as Chloe Forsell’s “Fifteen Ways of Looking at a Privy,” which is as much a meditation on presence as it is a history: a momentary glance from an outhouse in the woods into our ability to imagine the future. In addition to the compelling work included in this issue of Gandy Dancer, we are happy to announce that the Parry award for nonfiction this year goes to Maya Bergamasco for “Absolute Pitch,” published in 5.1. In this careful portrait, the author reflects on the relationship with her mother and its legacy in the author’s life.

This volume’s published works highlight the value of the persistence of the arts. In this place of witness, these student artists create a place to work together to understand ourselves and our current reality. With great pleasure and gratitude, we present to you these thoughtful, accomplished pieces. We hope they speak to you, and compel you to witness, record, reflect, and continue to share with us.

Evan Goldstein & Oliver Diaz
April 2017

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Our Responsibility As Writers Under Trump

     Posted by Isabel Keane, GD Fiction Reader for 5.2

    “In the dark times, will there also be singing?

      Yes, there will be singing.

      About the dark times.”

-“Motto” by Bertolt Brecht

Do you remember when you were younger, learning history in school and thinking, “If I was alive then, I would have…”

You’re alive now. What you’re doing now is what you would have done then. Donald Trump was inaugurated into office a little over a month ago, and already the arts are in danger. Continue reading

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Gandy Dancer Reviews Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Posted by Hannah McSorley, GD Fiction Reader for 5.2

I first read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff over the summer following a recommendation by my older sister, and I have since recommended this book, as well as all of Groff’s other stories and books, to everyone who knows me. I couldn’t put this book down!

Fates and Furies captures the marriage between Lotto and Mathilde Satterwhite. The book is split into two parts titled “Fates” and “Furies” respectively, and it is a fantastic exploration of marriage and it raises the question of how well we know others in our lives. Continue reading

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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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An Interview with Monica Wendel

Posted by Amy Elizabeth Bishop, GD Managing Editor for 3.2

Post Script began in the fall of 2013, as a way to connect writing alumni back into current student work. Our first Post Script contributor was  a creative nonfiction piece by Rachel Svenson, SUNY Geneseo, class of 2010. Since then, poetry by Emily Webb (SUNY Geneseo, class of 2013) and Nate Pritts (SUNY Brockport) have been featured in Gandy Dancer. This semester, we’re proud to feature three of Monica Wendel’s poems in the Post Script section. Monica is a SUNY Geneseo alum, class of 2005. One of our Managing Editors for Issue 3.2, Amy Elizabeth Bishop, sat down with her for an interview about writing advice, creating a literary life after college, and her own writing success.

Amy Elizabeth Bishop (AEB): What started you on the poetry path and how did you maintain your literary life after leaving Geneseo and your MFA program at NYU? You’ve published two chapbooks, one collection, and numerous poems online and in print.

Monica Wendel

Monica Wendel

Monica Wendel (MW): The good part about staying in the city where I did my MFA—well, there were a lot of good parts—but pertinent to that question, I made a lot of really good friends at NYU and we stayed friends. My social life includes going to poetry readings, having dinner and workshopping, and other things that sound pretentious when I write them like this. Hmm. The best way of explaining it is that there’s no distinction between my life-life and my literary-life. I don’t ever feel like I’m taking off one hat and putting on another; writing is simply part of how I function in the world.

To go back to what started me on the poetry path, there are a few answers. The idealistic answer is that poetry is fulfilling, connects me with others, is beautiful and meaningful, etc. And that idealistic answer is true! My best times at Geneseo were spent in creative writing classes. But there’s another, less tactful answer that’s also true, which is that I like being good at things, and even better is to be the best at something. I like winning contests. I like seeing my name in print. Those things happened the more I devoted myself to poetry.

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