Tag Archives: Geneseo

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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The Learning Curve: Reflecting on Growth as an Editor

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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College Decision Day

Posted by Kaitlin Pfundstein, GD Creative Non-Fiction Reader for 6.2 

With May 1 rapidly approaching, high school seniors across the nation are making what feels like one of the most important decisions of their lives so far. Choosing what college you will attend is one of the first major decisions a young adult makes autonomously, and the process can be daunting to say the least.  Each school offers different programs and opportunities for students to advance their learning both inside and outside the classroom; SUNY Geneseo is no exception to this rule. Continue reading

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National Book Review Month: An Interview with Heather Molzon

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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Jennifer Galvão

Pilgrimage

The place where the miracles happened is totally paved over. Everything is clean and painted white – probably for viewing purposes. You couldn’t miss a miracle, standing out against all the white. I try to imagine how it must have been in 1917, but all I have to go on are the pictures from the pamphlets, printed in fifteen different languages – Welcome to Fatima.

As a child, this was always my favorite religious story; the luminous lady who appeared on the thirteenth day of every month in the Cova da Iria fields. I liked that the Virgin Mary had appeared in Portugal, where my dad was from. I liked that she had appeared to children. I liked the smallness and dirtiness of the shepherd children, with their baleful orphan eyes and their musical names – Jacinta, Francisco, Lucia. I used to mouth their names and study their picture, printed on a laminated prayer card – two young girls and a boy in black and white, very young. I guess I thought it would mean more to me than it does.

Towering fifty feet above our heads is a modern, stylized crucifix made of red plastic. Lego Jesus on His Lego Cross (cross sold separately). We stand and look at it for a while. If it’s meant to inspire something in me, it doesn’t succeed.

Cutting through all the white concrete is a path of dark gray tile, very smooth. People travel along it on their knees in scattered, shuffling clumps. Some carry rosary beads. Others wear kneepads. You can follow their slow progress down the concrete slope, around the chapel, and up to the sanctuary. We watch them knee painfully past us, lips moving silently.

My brother doesn’t believe me when I tell him that some of these people have walked here from their homes, hundreds of miles away, but my dad confirms my story.

“They come from all over Portugal,” Dad says. “They walk and then when they reach Fatima, they go on their knees. Your grandmother came once when she was younger.”

“Is that why Vóvó’s knees are so messed up?”

“No,” Dad says. “That’s just because she’s old.”

After we pray in the chapel, we wait on a long line to buy waxy, overpriced candles. There’s a woman begging amid the candles. Dad hands her a couple Euros. It’s a good place to beg, he concedes. Prime real estate.

Another line, then, in front of an enormous pyre of open flame. We wait our turn to step forward, hold our hands above the heat, and touch our wicks to the candles already burning there. Then I find an open slot to wedge my candle in amid the others, leave it to melt stringy and white into the fire.

You are supposed to stop and say a prayer, but I am being crowded and my brother’s candle won’t light, so I have to help him, and then we are moving away from the pyre.

I wonder if they collect the melted wax and use it to make new candles, recycling people’s offerings to the fire. I don’t know if that’s how wax works, and I don’t ask. I like the idea, the circularity of it. It makes me feel filled up in a way the rest of this place doesn’t.

 

We’ve come to Portugal because my grandparents can’t come home.

Or maybe that’s me being egocentric. Maybe their home is Portugal. My father was born there. When he was a baby, they moved to America without him. He followed later, once they were settled, and Portugal followed them, too. It lingered in the dim, wood-paneled kitchen that always smelled like foreign food. The hanging glass lamp that rattled when low-flying airplanes from LaGuardia passed by overhead. The crinkly, plastic-covered couches. The heavy accents. The tilde over the a in our last name.

Probably, they missed it. That’s something I’ve never thought about before. Once they retired, they started spending the summers in Portugal. Five years ago, they went to spend the summer and found that they couldn’t come back. The doctors said it wasn’t a good idea. My grandpa’s Alzheimers is too heavy to carry across an ocean. So now we are coming to them.

Murtosa is a small town on the coast. The roads are twisty, storybook-narrow. Everything is tiled and patterned and bright. The last time we visited, my grandparents were only there for the summer. I was ten and terrorized by the huge number of stray dogs roaming the little farm town. I was scared to leave the gated yard. Now, I dread having to go inside.

I am afraid to see what’s happened to my grandpa. Even before they left, before he got so bad, I didn’t like to be around him. I felt embarrassed for him. It felt wrong to nod at his senseless, circular stories and feign interest— humoring him like a child. That was five years ago. I think we are all expecting the worst.

Dad calls it our Portuguese pessimism – expect the worst, and at least you’re never disappointed. Mourn when the boats go out, in the event that they don’t come back.

“It’s the kind of trip you have to take sometimes,” Mom tells us in the airport. “It will mean so much to your grandma.”

Mom is always looking for moral lessons to deliver. She tackles the world like a scholar annotating a classic novel, pulling out major themes and underlining significant exchanges. Usually I understand it; I am always trying to make things mean more than they do. This time I quietly wish that she wouldn’t voice her reluctance. I would prefer to pretend that this is a pleasure trip, sixteen days spent in the home my Dad grew up in. It’s fifteen minutes from the beach. That’s what I tell my friends. Not the rest of it.

 

As we sit on the beach, fifteen minutes from the house, Dad points to a buoy out in the water, near the horizon. If you drew a line straight across the ocean, he says, we’d hit the Jersey Shore. This is an ocean we know. We’re just on the wrong side of it.

We watch an old, brightly-colored fishing boat come back to shore, dragging an enormous net behind it beneath the surf. That’s something I like about Portugal – history is so physically present. We walk along the waterline to watch the boat come ashore because Dad says it’s worth seeing.

The sea starts to sizzle with panicked life, silver bright, as a tractor wearies its way towards the dunes, pulling the boat up the beach. The tractor grumbles and lows like the fleets of oxen that used to pull these nets ashore.

Overhead, a spiraling cumulus of seagulls is forming. My brothers yell and duck and throw stones at them, but they part and come together again, hungry. The tractor pulls the boat and the boat pulls a net, wriggling with life, up the shore.

Dad says that this used to be an incredibly dangerous job. Portuguese wives would stand on the shore in their mourning clothes, weeping and tearing their clothes as they waved their husbands off to sea, a kind of pre-mourning ritual. I imagine they hoped that the tears they shed, the clothes they rent, would stave off death for another day. I imagine their tears as food for a hungry thing, salt water offerings to the sea.

The fish come slithering up the shore, caught.

 

My grandfather isn’t as bad as I feared. Mostly he sits on a lawn chair in the open garage in his blue-striped pajamas, vacant but content. If you smile at him, he will smile back. It’s probably just instinct, but he likes it if you nod along as he speaks incoherent Portuguese. The only phrase I recognize is esta bien over and over again – it’s good.

I smile and nod and say, “Yeah. Bien.” When a fly lands on his arm, I shoo it away.

We sit for hours, him watching the clothesline sway in the wind, me watching the patch of skin between his socks and his blue pajama pants. I am mourning him before he has gone.

My grandma hangs laundry and picks lemons in the backyard. She limps badly, up and down the stairs, as she takes my grandpa to the bathroom. At night, I sit in the kitchen with her and watch her rub medication onto the swollen rounds of her knees. Their little brown dog runs the length of the driveway, back and forth, yapping furiously as two olive-skinned boys lead a horse down the street.

I like to be here. I am not as sad as I thought I would be. It’s only when I think about leaving that I feel sad, thinking about the two of them sitting side by side in their armchairs. Him talking nonsense as she rubs her knees, her cooking elaborate meals, then cutting the food into little bites for him, watching him eat in silence. He can’t leave the house and she can’t leave him alone, so they stay home now. I think she must be lonely.

My grandma’s English is still very good. She asks questions about college and shows me funny videos on Facebook. She marvels at how tall my brother David has gotten. She protests when my mom tries to do the dishes.

“Susan, you don’t come to do more work. This is your vacation.”

My mom dismisses this and starts soaping up a pan. “You work too hard already, Lucinda,” she says. “Relax for a couple minutes.”

Vóvó doesn’t put up a fight, which shows how much her legs must be hurting her. She peeks into the living room to make sure my grandfather is still in his armchair, watching a soccer game with my brothers. He mostly sits quietly, but when Ronaldo scores a goal and my brothers cheer, he does too. I wonder how much he is understanding, how much is muscle memory.

Mom is trying to convince Vóvó to get some help around the house. A neighbor already comes twice a week to do some cleaning and mind my grandfather while Vóvó runs to the grocery store, but Mom insists that she needs more help.

“What if you fall in the garden and can’t get help?” she asks. “What if Dad falls on the stairs? He’s too heavy for you to catch him. The doctor said you need to rest your knees or they won’t get better. How will you ever get any rest when you’re following him around all day? You can’t even leave the house.”

“I don’t mind work. I like to take care of him,” Vóvó says.

“You’ve got to take care of yourself, too,” Mom protests.

“Is not forever,” Vóvó says. “Then I will come home.”

She says that a lot. It surprised me the first time I heard it, the bluntness of it. She doesn’t say it sadly or hopefully. It’s just a fact. Her Portuguese pessimism. Things are deteriorating quickly. That’s the reason we’re here, after all, after five years of baseball schedules and college orientations and being too swamped at work to take off so much time.

There’s a noise from the living room. My little brother Eddie comes to the door. He’s wearing the Portuguese soccer jersey he bought at the market. He’s worn it every day since he bought it, despite our mockery.

“I think Vôvô needs to go to the bathroom,” he says, only twelve, a little bit embarrassed.

Vóvó gets to her feet, knees bending unwillingly.

“Let me,” Mom protests, but Vóvó shakes her head and limps to the door.

“Is not forever,” she says again.

 

There’s a little, glass gazebo built on the site where the apparitions are said to have occurred. It houses a small altar and a fleet of benches made of light colored wood. We find a free space to fit our sweaty, American bodies and then we sit. Mom prays. Maybe the rest of my family does, too. I don’t know for sure. To ask would be to betray myself. Surely if I really believed I wouldn’t be asking at all. Is this just muscle memory for you, too?

I put my head down, play-acting at something I don’t understand. I don’t pray, though I wish I could. I think I would find it comforting. But I am distracted – first by my brother’s fidgeting, then by the shhh-shhh sound of kneepads on the tile floor

I crack my eyes and watch an old man round the altar on his knees, back bowed, lips moving above his rosary beads. He moves slowly and with obvious effort. I wonder if these last few meters, the last bit of his crawling pilgrimage, are the easiest or the hardest part. I try to imagine how fervently and wholly you must believe in something to walk so far, to crawl on your knees across the white pavement, but it’s not something I can understand. So instead I think about how sore his knees must be.

When my brothers ask Vóvó about Fatima, her hand moves to her knee with a wince, like she’s remembering.

“I went with my church,” she says. “Your daddy was very sick when he was a baby. I prayed for him. I promised if he got well, I would make the trip to Fatima.”

We all look at Dad, surprised. He didn’t tell us that part. He grimaces.

“It worked,” he jokes.

“It works,” Vóvó agrees.


Jennifer Galvão is a junior at SUNY Geneseo, where she is studying English literature. She is enthusiastic about chocolate milk, dangly earrings, and the book Ella Enchanted. She is a Pisces, which explains a lot.

The Lie>>

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A Review of Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach, and a reflection on the relationship between art and story

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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Beyond Boundaries: Geneseo’s NeuWrite/Edu Program Bridges Fields Often Forced Separate

Posted by Madison Wayland, CNF Reader for issue 6.1

So, uh, what are you going to do with that?”

This is the response I often receive from—well-meaning, and for the most part understandably confused—internship coworkers, peers in a new class, old friNeuWriteends I run into at Wal-Mart, as I answer that standard what-are-you-doing-with-your-life question every college student receives at Christmas dinners. I tell them I’m a double major, biology and creative writing, and watch their faces slowly twist as they try to comprehend the combination. Continue reading

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Fifth Annual Pub Fair at the Visual Studies Workshop

Posted by Rachel Britton, Poetry Editor for issue 6.1

Poetry printed into sidewalk bricks of the Memorial Gallery’s Poetry Walk led me to the Pub Fair, a day of books, art, beer, and coffee at the Visual Studies Workshop (VSW). Promoting its most recent issue, Gandy Dancer had a significant presence with representatives from the managing, nonfiction, and art editors, staff readers, and friends of the journal. The event offered creative vendors space to sell and build their network likeminded individuals. Among those in attendance were BOA Editions, Ltd., Writers and Books, Open Letter translations from the University of Rochester, and RIT’s art magazine Draft. I was overwhelmed by the amount of art, magazines, journals, and organizations present. And by extension, the size of Rochester’s art community! Continue reading

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A Kind of Book Review of Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky With Exit Wounds

Posted by Frank Bruno, Fiction Reader for issue 6.1

In May of 2016 Ocean Vuong’s first full length collection of poetry, Night Sky With Exit Wounds was released by Copper Canyon Press. The book has since received swaths of rave reviews and a number of prestigious awards including the Whiting Award, the Forward Prize, and the Thom Gunn Award. Despite the relative media buzz created by the book, it only came to me a year after its initial release when my friend read me the poem “Thanksgiving 2006.” I started reading my own copy this past June and finished it last week. Continue reading

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What am I even doing here? Writing and Existential Angst

Posted by Lily Codera, GD Poetry Reader for 5.2

So you’ve decided to write, and nothing is going to stop you. You’re going to write, and no number of soul-draining barista or restaurant server positions (on the side) can slow your momentum now. At this point, you may have developed a routine that allows you to work on your writing regularly; you may have even pinpointed your most productive time of day so as to “protect” it, like Kate Daloz suggested at her recent reading. Maybe your dad has finally come to terms with the fact that you’re probably not going to become the doctor or lawyer that he always wanted you to be. Great. So why do you still feel so unsettled about all this? Continue reading

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