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