Tag Archives: Inspiration

Inspiration from SUNY Geneseo Alumna, Erin Kae

Posted by Lyndsay Tudman, Poetry Editor for 8.2

In early March of 2020, SUNY Geneseo alumna Erin Kae visited to hold the school’s first literary forum of the semester. There, she read Grasp This Salt, her chapbook that explores the story of Susan Smith, the woman who drowned her two young sons in 1995. During the literary forum, Kae discussed her inspiration for the chapbook. The event happened when Kae was only a few years old, which has allowed her to take an unbiased approach as she learned more about Susan Smith, the horrific event, and the incessant news coverage which followed.

As a current Geneseo student, I found it really interesting to hear Kae speak not only about her experience in writing a chapbook, but also about her life as a Geneseo student. When Kae had visited my poetry workshop the morning before the literary forum, she talked to us students about how some of her published poems started in classes like ours. As a creative writing major at SUNY Geneseo, it was really inspiring to see a published author talk about the same classes we were in and the professors we study under who helped her get to where she is now.

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Finding Inspiration Through Sylvia Plath’s Poetry

Posted by Aliyha Gill, Poetry Reader for 8.1

As a poet, I’m always looking for inspiration from other writers. I search for words, images, and techniques that I can borrow and make my own. So when I recently found myself in a writing rut, I dove into the poetry section of Barnes & Noble. Once I discovered Sylvia Plath’s poetry, I quickly noticed how it was riddled with enticing lines. Pen in hand, I jotted down every word or phrase that caught my eye. By the time I was finished, I’d read her poetry collections “Ariel” and “The Colossus” in their entirety. As a whole, her poems have melancholy tones, including “Morning Star,” which was written for her daughter, Frieda. Her stanzas are relatively short and her poems rarely exceed three pages. Plath tended to personify nature in her writing. She writes, “whoever heard a sunset yowl like that,” “let the stars Plummet to their dark address” (“Magi”), “the moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary,” (“Purdah”), and  “by day, only the topsoil heaves” (“The Colossus”) are all great examples of this technique. 

I also noticed that she used the following words/phrases in more than one poem:

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“How to Poem”: An Interview with Gandy Dancer Contributor Ashley Olin

Posted by Rachel Powers, GD Poetry Reader for 5.1


Ashley Olin - Poem

From Miley Cyrus to “Wikipedia-ing,” Gandy Dancer’s former contributor discusses the writing process behind her poems.

We are excited for the chance to visit with former Gandy Dancer 3.1 contributor, Ashley Olin. Although Ashley no longer travels across Geneseo’s college green to get to poetry workshops, her time as an undergraduate student at SUNY Geneseo has shaped her unique writing process. From surfing Wikipedia to finding inspiration in pop culture, Ashley shares some sources of inspiration for her poems. Continue reading

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Creating Autumn

Posted by Lexi Sammler,  GD Creative Nonfiction Section Head for 5.1

Creating Autumn in Nature and WritingFrom a young age, I discovered the ability to lose myself in nature. I pride myself in stopping to smell the flowers, going on walks in the woods, and embracing the quiet sounds of nature.  Each step I have made through crunching leaves has allowed me to better myself as a writer. I have learned to appreciate and meditate in nature beyond the small creatures of the forest. I am thankful for all the green grass in my life, the cool breezes, and the reminder of my childhood that comes from stepping outside. Continue reading

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Finding Inspiration

Posted by Pam Haas, GD Poetry Reader for 5.1

As a writer, I’m constantly looking around for different sources to draw inspiration from. Recently, however, I’ve had a bit of a block. Every writer knows that feeling when the muse has abandoned them and nothing seems like poetry, or when the day feels too dreary and drippy to compose a satisfying painting. So to combat writer’s block for myself and anyone who may be similarly searching around for creative encouragement, I asked a few fellow student writers at SUNY Geneseo to respond to the question: Where do you get your inspiration from? This is what they have to say: Continue reading

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Taken in by the Music

Posted by Giovanni Madonna, Fiction Reader for Issue 4.1

Have you ever read a book and found, either at the end or the beginning, a page marked “Songs that got me through this book” or other similar titles? A surprising number of the books I’ve read recently seem to have a page dedicated to the playlist that the author used while writing, which got me curious. How exactly does music effect our brains? What is it about music that triggers inspiration and motivates us to write? Even now, while writing this post, I have my headphones in and am listening to an upbeat, catchy tune. For me, this kind of active music is what gets my fingers moving, but why is that? As it turns out, we’re still not entirely sure, but there have been some interesting discoveries as to how the brain changes while listening to music.

According to Medical Daily musicis unique because it appeals to our brains in a way that random background noise doesn’t, due to its repetitiveness and organization. The brain takes in this organized noise and is able to interpret it on a number of levels, stimulating the release of dopamine while also activating the parts of the brain responsible for memory and planning.

Fast Company builds on this by explaining that the brain is even capable of allowing people to identify the emotions of a song without actually feeling them themselves. An example of this would be listening to a sad song and recognizing it as sad, but still being able to be happy listening to it because it sounds good to you. It was even found that listening to music at a moderate volume stimulates the brain in a way that is ideal for creative ventures. The explanation for this is that music at a mid-level volume puts a slight strain on the brain, making it move from ordinary reasoning to more abstract problem solving. In other words, it forces the brain to consider what’s in front of it in a more creative way.featured image from CNN

So if you’re ever in a rut and are trying to find something to get the wheels turning, try popping in a pair of headphones and listening to some of your favorite songs on a moderate volume. While all music has an effect on our brains, it shouldn’t be surprising to find that songs we like have a much bigger impact than random pieces. Let your self be taken in by the music, don’t just passively listen to it, feel whatever emotions it brings to the surface. See what memories and ideas float by, and allow yourself to struggle till your brain can take all that input and find a solution.

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Wake Up and Smell the Coffee…or Tea: Exploring Writers’ Obsessions

Posted by Cortney Linnecke, GD Fiction Reader for 3.2

What is it about coffee and tea that so tickles writers’ fancies? Is it the sharp, earthy smell of freshly roasted beans? Is it the almost poetic way steam tendrils roll off a hot cup of tea like dragon’s breath? Or perhaps it’s the way baristas etch cliché but secretly satisfying designs into marbled latte foam?

No matter the reason, it can’t be argued that writers and hot beverages go together like Shakespeare and iambic pentameter. It’s a fact, as basic and fundamental as the knowledge that Dr. Seuss enjoyed a good rhyme or the consensus that Mark Twain rocked a mean mustache. If you need proof, just look at the world around you: there’s the popularization of mom-and-pop coffee shops, the increasing preference for foreign coffees and specialty teas, and the creeping and steadily escalating price of coffee (which hit an all-time high in late 2014). And let’s not forget the gargantuan size of the menu at Starbucks, which itself is a multi-billion dollar industry funded almost entirely by sleep-deprived artists, hipsters with drink orders the length of small novels, and of course, the occasional, bumbling tourist just looking for free wifi. Continue reading

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