When writing fiction, we travel into a world with no limits. The writer is both the navigator and the passenger on a journey to which they may or may not know the destination. This destination most always, though, starts with a character. Most writers of fiction, including professor Rachel Hall with whom I took a workshop focusing specifically on writing characters with, will tell you that plot comes from characterization. A character must want something in order for there to be a story. But this raises the question–how does one go about writing a character? Sometimes, we can mine our lives for characters, but other times, the story calls for a character who is unlike us or who has experienced different things than we have. Continue reading →
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At the end of most semesters, you can find us celebrating the launch of Gandy Dancer in the College Union at Geneseo. We have food and drink. Guests can hear contributors read their work in person, purchase the new issue or a Gandy Dancer T-shirt, coffee mug, or baseball hat. Sometimes we have live music or a raffle, but we always have fun.
This semester, we’re all spread out across the state, hunkered down at home, but we still want to celebrate the new issue, the hard work of putting it together—especially after we went to remote learning—the artists and writers from across SUNY who entrusted us with their work. You can view it below, on our YouTube channel, or with the current issue.
As always, you can purchase an issue here or view it online at gandydancer.org.
We hope you’ll enjoy the work you see and hear.
Many thanks to Allison Brown, Michele Feeley, Dr. Rob Doggett, and the Parry family. Thanks also to the contributors for sharing their work and to the creative writing and art instructors in whose classrooms this work was encouraged to bloom.
The Gandy Dancer staff
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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.
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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Posted by Nicole Callahan, GD Fiction Reader for 7.1
Ask any writer about their writing from high school and their general reactions are likely to be the same: embarrassment. As a general rule of thumb, working in any creative field is a never-ending, slow upward climb that can make the experience of looking back either gratifying or mortifying (and sometimes both). My different experiences working on literary magazines have taught me similar lessons about being an editor.
My high school was very small, but our literary magazine, The Mast, had been around for decades. The club was run by our English teacher, Mr. Seffick, a patient soul who suffered alongside us on our creative journey.
One of the most obvious distinction between The Mast and Gandy Dancer is the disparity in resources. The Mast was lucky to hold a meeting of 10 members and submissions largely came from the staff. The class that produces Gandy Dancer is lucky to have 20+ students and can still feel under-staffed sometimes. The Mast did not use Adobe InDesign. Instead, we would physically lay out the magazine and then entrust the physical copy it to the two students who knew how to work Photoshop. Our online presence was nil simply because we didn’t have the time or understanding to create a good blog, though our technical squad did occasionally post videos calling for submissions. Continue reading →
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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 →
Posted by Gabrielle Esposito, GD Fiction Editor for 7.1
I identify as a fiction writer because I’m too self-conscious to write nonfiction, and I can’t write poetry because I don’t know when to shut up. I’ve found in the writing community that writers have preferred genres, and once that preference is identified, all the other genres disappear. Most of a writer’s hesitation comes from the fact that the three genres are very different. Continue reading →
Posted by Jennifer Taylor Johnson, GD Fiction Reader for 6.2
Whether your passion is writing and editing or you’re just looking for a class to fit your schedule in the fall, being a member of the Gandy Dancer team is not a decision you will regret. Joining the Gandy Dancer team is more than a grade on your transcript, it dedicating hard work and time into assembling the school’s literary journal and learning important life lessons along the way. Don’t believe me? Here are four lessons you will learn by being a reader for The Gandy Dancer. Continue reading →
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Posted by Grace Rowan, GD Creative Non-Fiction Reader for 6.2
During the month of February, love is in the air. At SUNY Geneseo, the love of books and the art of reviewing is celebrated through the English Department’s third annual National Book Review Month (NaRMo). Readers can submit reviews of their favorite books to the NaRMo website: www.narmo.milne-library.org. The website provides five easy steps to writing a book review and how to submit the review once completed. NaRMo is accepting reviews from a variety of genres including Children’s Books, Drama, Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.
To learn more about NaRMo and why book reviews are a great asset to not only the Geneseo literary community, but also the campus community, I interviewed the Coordinator and Student Chair of NaRMo here at SUNY Geneseo, Heather Molzon. Heather Molzon is a senior Creative Writing major with a Communication minor. Continue reading →
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Posted by Francesco Bruno, GD Fiction Co-Section Head for 6.2
I invite you to refute the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover,” and contemplate the paperback edition of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, published in 2011 by Alfred A Knopf. The cover shows a colorful menagerie of bodies in manifold contortions and postures. The translucent figures overlap and blend with each other, but no single figure grabs a central focus. The book’s title is laid over this image (again, the font is translucent) and the cluster of bodies is put into focus by a background of stark white space. The cover suggests not cacophony but polyphony, its narratives not shouting over one another but offering a variety of perspectives and lenses through which readers can continuously re-interpret the cover. Continue reading →
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