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.

Nicole Interviewing Natalie: 

What are you looking forward to the most working as Managing Editor for GD? 

My ultimate goal in life is to publish my own work, and I’d bet that getting a look at the behind-the-scenes of the editing world will be beneficial in my own future endeavors (which feels especially necessary right now, as I’m quickly approaching my graduation). And, hey, maybe I’ll fall in love with editing in its own right! On another note, I’m super duper excited to read all of the submissions. I can’t wait to see what fantastic work my peers have to offer.


I know that you prefer to work with poetry, what calls to you about that form? 

I think what draws me to poetry the most is its closeness, at least in my own process, to visual art. The poem is messy and feels unstructured in a way that prose, for me, just doesn’t. This life is a messy one and thus I feel most enabled to communicate and explore it within an uninhabited, lawless form. This is all to say that I am tremendously intimidated by prose; I lack the patience for arcs or development and prefer the quick punches and jabs of poetry.


What are you looking forward to about becoming an editor? 

Mostly learning! Editing is uncharted territory for me. As such, it’s kind of difficult to anticipate what I might like or dislike about it. All in all, though, I’m looking forward to exploring—I’m certain editing has something to offer me, and I am very much looking forward to finding out what exactly that is. 


What helps you find your creative inspiration? 

My poems and my work, in general, are very much about the little things that strike me in my daily life—the bits and pieces of magic I often find in interacting with this world. One of my favorite instances of this was when a crawfish literally fell into my front yard, presumably having been picked up from the Hudson River by a bird. This inspired me to write a poem which, funnily enough, was then published in Gandy Dancer! Moments like that one, or like cherry blossoms blowing into my car window, or like finding a snail on my finger while hiking, are the reason that I write. I find magic in my life and it feels selfish to keep it all to myself.


What is your favorite punctuation? 

This is the hardest question so far. Punctuation is something I play with quite a lot in my own work, so I honestly have some attachment to a lot of them. If I had to pick just one, though, I think it might be a plus sign. It’s visually strong and really striking, and it feels like a reclamation of sorts, given the many years I spent struggling through math class. 


Natalie Interviewing Nicole

What are you looking forward to the most working as Managing Editor for GD?

When I took the editing and production workshop in which we create Gandy Dancer last fall my favorite part of the class was definitely the collaborative nature of the selection process. I’m in the English literature concentration because I love analyzing works and dissecting their strengths and weaknesses, as well as seeing where other people find value in a piece. I think as managing editor I am most excited to have even more of those collaborative moments, with you, with faculty like Professor Hall and Allison Brown, and with our section heads. I want to have a more active hand in those conversations. 


I know that you prefer to work with fiction. Why? 

I think there are several things that fiction does that I’ve always loved. For me, a story is only as good as its characters. I love it when you can really feel a character, like when a line leaps off the page with humanity, when you can see them like they’re living beside you. I also think though that prose can be illuminated by an understanding of poetry. When the prose is lyrical without being purple, and you feel like the story is flowing naturally. That’s when a story stays with you, and that’s what I love the most. 


What’s been your most formative editing experience?

I actually wrote a blog post last fall about my experience as an editor of my high school’s literary magazine. It was a chaotic experience, but the product was always something I felt good about. That was my first real experience with editing, and it’s safe to say I wouldn’t be here without that experience. I had another really shaping experience last year with Mint Magazine, which is another literary magazine on campus. We accidentally printed dozens of copies of the magazine with a critical error and had to hold distribution until we could print a fixed version. That experience was a pretty poignant lesson on Murphy’s law.


What helps you find your creative inspiration? 

Getting in a creative mood can be sparked by lots of different things, but my most reliable inspiration is always reading other people’s work. When I’m in a class sometimes I’ll have a page of notes littered by writing ideas, either specific lines or basic concepts. My writing is never too derivative from the works that inspire it, though, normally it’s just one thought leads to the next. 


What is your favorite punctuation? 

I love a good em dash. I think there’s something so realistic about interruptions in our thoughts, conversation detours, and cutting people off. In fact I—

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