Normally we take time here to welcome you into the issue, and to tie the works within it together in a way that gives you some sense of the context of the journal and the value of our mission. The present being what it is, we feel an even more pressing urge to speak deep truths about literature, art, and life. It’s time to be profound. Please excuse us if we are not up to the task.
COVID-19 has transformed the context of our production and the daily context of all of our lives. The death toll in New York state alone has, at the time of writing this, surpassed 15,000. The struggles for all people, but especially the most vulnerable in our society, are severe. Given the transition to online education, the production of Gandy Dancer was different than it has ever been before. Due to the cancelation of our Visiting Writers series, you will note that this semester’s publication lacks our usual book review and author interview.
Luckily, technology has allowed us to stay connected enough to produce a journal we’re proud of, even in the wake of the unrest around us. Gandy Dancer’s mission is to connect readers, writers, and artists of all kinds across all SUNY schools. How timely. It’s easy to feel isolated in a time where we’re not in our classrooms, we’re not attending club meetings, and we’re not making art in the same way we were. But many of us are still making art.
Engaging with that art and literature feels equal parts impossible and necessary. We offer you this journal as a multipurpose tool. That is to say, we hope you will utilize this journal in whatever way, or ways, you need. Two purposes strike us as equally important. The first being escape, whether that be into the lives of characters and speakers, or into the words of a poem. We cannot, in good conscience, call Gandy Dancer a light read, but the contents of this issue are as engaging and vital as ever.
The second purpose we seek with this issue is one of reckoning. Through our “Remote Voices: Posts from the Pandemic” section, we want to invite you to face this moment through art. Why engage with challenging things during a challenging time? Maybe because when everything is terrible, sometimes it is just as relieving to cry as it is to laugh. Maybe because it is comforting to see you are not the only one who is angry and confused and worried. Find catharsis in the idea that, as Evan Goldstein puts it in his poem “Litany in April,” “your kindness was good, your anger / is good… and you were good.”
With that being said, we encourage you, to the very best of your ability, to continue making and enjoying art. Gandy Dancer exists as a lasting testament to the connections we have to each other, through the SUNY System, and beyond that, the connection we have to all people through our creative work. Maintain existing connections, make new connections when possible, and support one another endlessly. You are not alone in this.
Nicole Callahan & Natalie Hayes