Though they be but little, they are fierce.

The Gandy Dancer is an literary magazine run by undergraduate students at SUNY Geneseo. While they are run by a small public university, they know how to make a big impact and they do so by publishing both in print and online as well as encouraging students from the entire network of SUNY schools – approximately sixty colleges- to submit. With this smart move the magazine expands its scope tenfold. My father always said “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you don’t have to worry about the biggest” which seems to be advice that those at the Gandy Dancer have picked up on. While students from New York States public universities may be yearning to publish their work in such journals as the Chicago Review or McSweeny’s, their first submissions will likely be to the Gandy Dancer.


The magazine publishes twice a year in both print and digital format and accepts not only poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, but also artwork. Including art work makes a literary magazine more visually interesting and has the added value of expanding the reach of the magazine. When you reach out to visual artists you are extending your hand to a whole community which would perhaps otherwise take no note of your publication. The act of reaching out to form bonds with others is even evident in the name of the magazine. The website for the publication states in it’s about section that a gandy dancer is ” the slang term for the railroad workers who laid and maintained the railroad tracks before the advent of machines to do this work” and that “Like the gandy dancers, writers and artists arrange and rearrange, adjust and polish to create something that allows others passage.” Therefore “The editors invite submissions that forge connections between people and places and, like the railroad itself, bring news of the world.”

gandy_dancer5    Another strategy that the Gandy Dancer uses in order to expand their reach is operating a blog. By using the blog they give their readers more content than just the publication. Posts about novels , politics, and events might draw readers further into their publication and convince them to tell their friends about it. The more complex a person is the more likely they are to tell their friends about them and the same goes for publications. If a publication is more complex than just a magazine of students poems people are more likely to read and recommend it.

The more complex a journal is the harder it is to produce and the Gandy Dancer has themselves covered there as well. While the student staff rotates the same positions are up for grabs. There are two managing editors as well as two fiction editors, two creative non-fiction editors, and one poetry editor. In addition to the editors the publication has a total of twenty readers: six for fiction, eight for poetry, and seven for creative non-fiction. Including their faculty adviser, that’s a whopping total of twenty eight people working on every issue of  the literary magazine which seems like a rather large number for such a small college. So, lets give the folks at the Gandy Dancer a hand for their hard work, their welcoming attitude, and for being the smartest undergraduate-run literary magazine in New York even though they aren’t the biggest. Railwayworkerswithtietongs


3 thoughts on “Though they be but little, they are fierce.

Add yours

  1. Rebecca, I think you’re spot on when you mention that pairing art work with literary work makes for a more interesting journal or magazine. As someone who believes firmly in the power of comics, I agree that it’s important for the communities of illustration and writing to maintain a working relationship. Words and art give characters life and dimension and that’s what makes for good creative work.
    I also believe that it is important for writers to have experience in submitting work for publishing. Important lessons can be learned form the submission process regardless of whether a writer’s work is accepted or denied. A writer needs to experience both. It’s good for growth.


  2. Interesting to hear the meaning of “Gandy Dancer”! You give a good overview of this journal and its role in the college literary community. If you return to this post, try to “zoom in” in a couple places. Tell us about a sample poem or story, or about some of the artwork you see in the journal. You might also consider how a couple Oswego students have had work published in the journal.


  3. I enjoy reading the Gandy Dancer in every issue and I was curious to hear the meaning about it. This literary journal has a big impact in all of the SUNY schools. It serves as a communication of thought amongst all of the schools and helps showcase the greatest that we have to offer. I would love to see some of your favorite submissions in the journal or favorite cover art.


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