by Tedria Smith
The Virginia Normal had an amazing year with endless opportunities given to the students at Virginia State University. During this school year, The Virginia Normal sponsored open mics and poetry slams in the Writing/e-Portfolio Studio on campus that had great turnouts. Students were able to recite their poetry and express themselves freely. The Virginia Normal welcomes all students on campus to join the open mics and poetry slams–not just English majors–because all voices are important when it comes to the art of spoken word. Another accomplishment was the 2019 Student Writing Contest, judged by VSU’s very own faculty members in the Department of Languages and Literature. The student writing contest encouraged students on campus to submit fiction, creative nonfiction, critical essays, and poetry. All creative pieces from the winners and honorable mentions for the student writing contest can be found in this issue of TVN@VSU.
This issue also includes two special features written by VSU students. Stacy Benson, who is a senior English major at VSU and last year’s editor of TVN@VSU, studied abroad in France last summer after receiving a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. During Stacy’s time in France, she was able to learn more about the French language and indulge in its culture. Stacy wrote a personal essay about her experiences in France for this issue. Branson Neuman, also an English major and an associate editor of TVN, wrote a critical analysis of the poetics of Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning album DAMN. Branson goes into detail about how the rap artist incorporates poetic structures within his album. Branson’s analysis is very informative and displays how artists such as Kendrick Lamar are also poets.
Creative writers at VSU also participated in this year’s second annual Department of Languages and Literature Black History Month Conference, which featured academic presentations by VSU students and faculty and concluded with a student reading of original creative work. I had the pleasure of hearing a fiction piece titled “Black Girl Magic” by Shelly Ackah and the poem “Black and White Photographs” by Branson Neuman, both of which I enjoyed.
The Virginia Normal publishes two journal issues each year. We publish a print issue for international contributors, and we also publish a student issue online. All submissions are screened by TVN’s staff and are published during the spring. The Virginia Normal encourages students to send poetry, essays, fiction and nonfiction. All submissions must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to give a special thanks to Dr.Sheikh Kamarah, Cheryl Stewart, the Department of Languages and Literature, as well as Dr. Freddy Thomas and the Writing/e-Portfolio Studio for their support.