Posted by Katie Rivito, Poetry Reader for issue 6.1
Although I cannot recall its name, the first literary journal I was introduced to left a lasting impression on me. This was not because I found its contents intriguing or its purpose inspiring, but because I was forced to study it page by page with excruciatingly focused attention while my friends tailgated our high-school football game.
My dad had come home that day just moments before dinner time, calling out to my sister and me to quickly meet him at the dining room table. We walked into the room to find him sitting at the head of the table with two copies of a book in front of him.
“You won’t believe what I showed my students today,” he announced excitedly as he slid us each a book from across the table. Continue reading
Posted by Alexandra Ciarcia, fiction reader for issue 4.2
Cover art for the December 2015 issue of [PANK]
Amidst the literary journal renaissance that we live in today, Gandy Dancer
finds grounding in examining other literary journals. From The Common
, we have studied a plethora of literary journals, but the one that influenced our selection process the most is [PANK]
was a favorite of Gandy Dancer
for its innovative pieces, ones that could never be described as run-of-the-mill.
[PANK] is an online and print literary magazine, with a mission statement that reads, “[PANK] fosters access to emerging and experimental poetry and prose, publishing the brightest and most promising writers for the most adventurous readers.” Their search for innovation is displayed in their selected pieces and their overall aesthetic. We were very impressed with their November & December 2015 online edition. As they state in their submission process, [PANK] asks writers to “send us something that screams.” If you take a look at such pieces as “We Sad Girls” by Lindsey Reese or “Lavatory” by Diane Williams in the November & December 2015 edition, you’ll see what I mean.
Have no fear, your new managing editors are here! As the spring semester murmurs to life and the windy Geneseo weather welcomes us all back it’s time for your new managing editors, Courtney and Christy (C2), to sit down with some coffee and ask each other the questions that matter:
Let’s get this party started:
The Dream Team: Ready for Action!
How did you first get involved with Gandy Dancer?
Courtney: One of my friends recommended the class to me, actually. I was looking at courses for junior year and wanted to know more about it. My friend was in the class at the time and told me about how it was a really hands-on class where you got to put together a literary magazine full of prose, poetry, and visual art from students all across the SUNY system. The publishing industry is so multifaceted and is something that has always intrigued me as well so I decided to give it a go. I’m so glad I did though because I fell in love with everything about Gandy Dancer (GD) and kept coming back to it. As an avid reader and writer, being involved in this class has exposed me to so many fascinating aspects of the literary world that I never knew about before GD.
Christy: In the middle of my junior year I was perusing the course list on KnightWeb in a sleep-deprived-registration-is-tomorrow-morning-frenzy when I happened upon this gem of a class. I, somewhat nervously mostly excitedly, decided to sign up and I’m so glad that I did because it ended up being an incredible experience. At the start of the class I knew virtually nothing about literary magazines, literary magazine culture, or how they functioned and survived. It was, not to quote Aladdin, a whole new world! Not only did it widen my horizons within the creative writing/literary universe but also getting to read through and edit submissions from other young writers really helped me to grow as a writer and as a poet. I’m so excited to be back! Continue reading
Posted by Erin Duffy, Nonfiction Editor for Issue 4.1
I’ve wanted to go into publishing for years. I imagined myself in a bustling metropolitan setting, attending corporate meetings, with piles and piles of manuscripts as far as the eye can see. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last year or so, it’s that that image makes up only a small fraction of the publishing industry: however big and powerful the major publishing houses may be, there are just as many rewarding opportunities –for writers and aspiring editors alike—in smaller corners.
My first experience with small press was actually quite indirect. Last year, my father published a novel entitled The Crew. It was his first venture into the literary world in any capacity: my father is an engineer with a military background, but nonetheless, he spent the last ten years or so writing a novel about life in the US Merchant Marine Academy in his spare time. The finished product was a whopping seven hundred-page book with nowhere to go. So, after at least two rewrites (and plenty of pestering from me), he began to seriously look into getting it published.
The first roadblock presented itself immediately. “Basically, I learned that if you wanted to go to a big publishing house, you had to have an agent,” my father told me recently. “And I wasn’t sure how to go about getting one. It’s almost like being an actor, where you need an agent to get auditions for you. But it’s still a matter of whether or not [the agent] would be willing to take you on as a client.”
My father’s analogy wasn’t too far off the mark. Many publishing houses don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, and they almost always want to speak to a literary agent first rather than to the authors themselves, especially if the author is unpublished. Finding an agent was essentially an extra audition process that my dad didn’t want to bother with.
So instead, he turned to a little company by the name of Page Publishing. Continue reading
Posted by Demetria Monachino, Fiction Reader and Art Curator for Issue 4.1
Before working on the Gandy Dancer, I didn’t know what a literary journal was. I didn’t know that there were publications out there dedicated to collecting individual works by writers and artists. I just sort of thought that one wrote a book–a novel, a collection of short stories or poems, a memoir–sent it to publishing houses, and got lucky. I knew that some people wrote short stories, essays, and poems, but I didn’t know where those works went, where they belonged, if not in a book.
It turns out that these pieces of literature find their homes in literary journals all over the world, one of which is The Common. Based in Amherst, Massachusetts, The Common has a rather uncommon goal: to achieve “a modern sense of place.” Unique to the world of literary journals, The Common is all about location, location, location.
Upon first look, The Common has a striking appearance. Its readers know that when the receive their issues they can expect a minimalist, modern, and clean-looking journal that features a bold color and a “common” object on the cover, along with The Common’s signature square logo. What readers can’t predict is what exactly that eye-catching color and everyday object will be. I find that The Common’s consistent yet unpredictable approach to the appearance of their journal mimics what can be found in the pages of the journal. Yes, readers can expect to read and view pieces with a strong sense of place, but they can never know what those places will be. Just as there are endless objects in the world to choose from, there are endless places to write about. These places could be geographical, like Issue 9’s portfolio of works centered on Bombay/Mumbai, or local, like Issue 7’s “Your Parent’s House” by Zeina Hashem Beck. Or place might provide the conflict by separating two people as it does in Masha Hamilton’s “God’s Fingernail,” in Issue 9. It could even be about searching for a place to belong or something to hold on to. This is the case with Issue “In Search of Bazena Nmcova” by Kelsy Parker, which I read in Issue 7. Continue reading
Posted by Rachel Hall, GD Faculty Advisor
Ok, Gandy Dancer 3.2 was fat and juicy, but now what? I asked some Gandy Dancers and FOGD (Friends of Gandy Dancer) what they are reading or planning to read this summer. I also asked them about their best summer read ever as well as what might surprise us about their bookshelves. Here’s how they responded:
3.2 Managing Editor, Amy Bishop, plans to read in three genres! She says, “for non-fiction, I really want to get my hands on Yes Please by Amy Poehler and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I’ve read a lot about both books and friends have highly recommended them too. Poetry-wise, I NEED to read Danez Smith’s new collection [insert] boy and finally get around to reading Richard Siken’s Crush. As for fiction, I never got around to A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, which was on my book stack at school and The Bone Tree by Greg Iles, which just came up on the NYT Bestseller’s List and looks fascinating.”
Our new PR specialist, Jenna Colozza is tackling BIG books this summer: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and Les Miserables. She also plans on reading the several issues of Slice magazine she received during the semester and couldn’t get to because she was reading for her classes.
Posted by Christine Davis, GD Nonfiction Reader for 3.2
The time has come readers, writers, and lovers of words. Gandy Dancer 3.2 is almost here, ready for consumption! After months reviewing wonderful submissions in the categories of poetry, fiction, art, and non-fiction from students all over New York State, we have whittled down our numbers and emerged with a collection of some of our best work yet!
Posted by Rachael Kelly, GD CNF Reader for 3.2
Creative nonfiction reader Rachael Kelly chatted with GD’s very own Rachel Hall to get an in-depth look at the past, present, and future of Gandy Dancer.
Rachael Kelly (RK): What are three of your favorite things about being the faculty advisor for Gandy Dancer?
Rachel Hall (RH): There are so many things that I love about teaching the Editing and Production Workshop and being the Gandy Dancer faculty advisor. It’s great to work with the class and staff to build something together. As a writing teacher, I’m often in the position of critiquing students’ work, slapping grades on their efforts, so that it can feel as if we are on opposite sides of the enterprise: Critic versus writer. But with Gandy, we’re working together to build something and I love that collaborative work. And I get to see talents the students have that might not show up in a regular classroom, skills like social media savvy or an eye for design. I also love seeing the journal come together—each semester, it feels a bit magical, though, of course, there is lots of hard work involved. That may be four things, but all are important! Continue reading
Posted by Mary Auld, GD Creative Nonfiction Editor for 3.2
I’m discovering that it’s important to understand the world of literary journals in order to work on one. This world seems infinite and overwhelming, featuring variations in look, medium, funding, affiliation, and theme. Each magazine makes its own attempt at carving out a space for itself in the overall scene. The Common, published at Amherst College, stands out as a journal with a well defined orientation within the realm of literary journals.
Posted by Andrew Nauffts, GD Art Editor for 3.2
Recently we had the pleasure of sitting down with Michael Palmer, one of the managing editors of Iron Horse Literary Review (IHLR). Our conversation ranged in topic from the magazine’s past, present, to the nature of lit mags, to Michael’s goals for Iron Horse. He was eager to talk about his role as managing editor and the world of literary magazines to our class of emerging writers and editors, and we learned a lot by speaking with him.