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  • Writer's pictureOne TwentyOne

Editor's Note

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

Another semester comes and goes as we put together our second issue of One Twenty One, Virginia State University's online journal of writing and art from undergraduates at HBCUs across the nation. As we look back on this past year, many thoughts and emotions come to mind—sadness, hopelessness, fear, rage, and frustration. But there is also amazement, joy, and adoration. There is hope and eagerness. There is optimism. This optimism is what fills us. Optimism is what drives us! Drives us to feel, to love, to voice, to write!

As we finalize the Fall 2022 issue, I realize that there is resilience in each and every line. The resilience of pushing past the fear, rage, and frustration to find the light, hope, and optimism. This issue is a testament to the resilience of our amazing contributors as well as our small student-run staff, whose dedication to this journal and its mission has finally come to fruition with this issue, six months later than we had originally planned.

Better late than never, though, and this is an amazing issue, one that we are all very proud to present to our readers!

Here at One Twenty One, we aim to uplift aspiring writers and artists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the nation. One Twenty One seeks arts from all kinds of artists, including fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, photography, performance, audiovisual art, spoken word, music videos, and much, much more!

In this issue, we were so grateful to read, enjoy, and spread voices from many talented VSU writers in multiple genres, including poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, and critical essays. Additionally, we’re excited to represent artists and writers from HBCUs across the country, and in our Fall 2022 issue, we were granted great opportunities to showcase writers France Archange of Oakwood University and Nailah Starks of Dillard University.

In this issue, we’re pleased to announce the winners of the Virginia State University Department of Languages and Literature Student Writing Awards for the 2022 academic year!

2022 VSU English Department Contest Winners


1st Place: “Requiem for Terra” by Matthew Prosise

2nd Place: “AWAY” by Kadyn Washington

Creative Nonfiction:

1st Place: “Dear Mom” by Yani McNeil

2nd Place: “Lost Love from a Hopeless Romantic” by Aerin Cuff


1st Place: “Mirrors on the Wall” by Samaria Rountree

2nd Place: “Farewell” by Aerin Cuff

Critical Essay:

1st Place: “Black Identity in America” by Yani McNeil

Kudos to all artists and writers represented in our Fall 2022 issue!

It is with great pleasure that we also announce that plain china, a national anthology of the best undergraduate writing housed at Virginia Commonwealth University, has chosen three pieces from our 2021 issue for inclusion in Volume X of their anthology!

Please join and support our writers by reading their work, forthcoming at!

A special thanks goes out to our managing editor, Sherena Willford. Sherena has performed her tasks and numerous others at an exceptional rate, and I couldn't have done it without her. I would also like to express my appreciation to our staff readers Lauren Burrell, Aisha Burts, Armani Callands, and Netanya Terry, as well as a special thanks to our faculty advisor, Professor Boswell who continues to support, love, and share our creative dreams. None of this would be possible without the help of the entire staff of One Twenty One!

We’d also like to thank the VSU Student Writing Contest Judges Merry Byrd, Latorial Faison, Ann Franklin and Michael McClure, the Virginia State University Department of Languages and Literature, and all who submitted their work for publication! Thank you all for helping One Twenty One to continue to thrive and shine brightly!

We hope you enjoy this issue of One Twenty One, as we continue to bring creativity to light!

~Aerin Cuff


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