As your email inbox may have clued you in at the beginning of the month, Hope College’s literary magazine known as Opus began taking submissions for its fall semester edition. The magazine takes written work such as poetry, flash fiction and prose, as well as visual art submissions such as photography, digital art and paintings. From there, they take their submissions and decide on one overarching theme to tie the chosen few selections together.
Opus strives to create a community of artists in not only the Hope area, but the surrounding community as well. In the past they’ve been known to hold poetry open-mic nights, open feedback sessions and book releases that may or may not include free soup. Because I know you’re just a little curious, in the wake of COVID-19, they have begun the semester by holding these open feedback sessions (as they’ve dubbed simply “Opus Meetings”) over a public Zoom link on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. If you’d ever like to join, simply email the Opus email (email@example.com).
If you choose to join three or more times, you will be listed in the magazine as a contributor. Add that to your resume!
To solidify what one of these “Opus Meetings” might look like, newly appointed co-editor and Hope senior Violet-Rose Peschiera explained, “Before a meeting, we send out the packet of [work] that we’re going to go over. So if anyone has their pieces featured in the next meeting, they can come and support their piece. We go over each one and critique them.” She laughed, “We are very nice about it––or we try to be.”
This packet she is referring to is the accumulated document of all of the work that has been submitted in the running to be part of the semester’s magazine. Don’t let the word “critique” daunt you either: it is simply an opportunity to get a piece workshopped in a nurturing environment. “What I think is interesting is that we come from a lot of different backgrounds. Not everyone is an English major and not everyone is an art major. We have people who are super passionate about the work we’re doing,” says Peschiera.
Opus has a long and slightly mysterious history here at Hope. According to Professor Peschiera, a member of the English department and Hope alumnus, Jane Bach was a co-editor and possible founder of the organization. The exact time period is unclear, but it is believed to have begun around the late 1950s. “I think that it was [inspired by] the Beatnik movement,” hypothesized current co-editor Peschiera.
If the idea of putting your creative work out there intimidates you, co-editor and Hope senior Morgan Brown has a message for you. “Here at Opus, our purpose is to show you off. You, the students of Hope College, make this journal what it is. You impress us, and it is my solemn wish that we could publish every single piece that we receive. For those who haven’t submitted: what are you waiting for?” wrote Brown in the Opus blog post “A blast from Opus past to inspire your future submissions.”
The post details all the different types of submissions from the past, ranging from a stage-destined two-person scene, sheet music and even a poem written entirely in French. Don’t let Hope’s stereotype of purity stop you from being creatively “impure.” Reach outside the box.
“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to come to the table,” said Peschiera.
If you didn’t submit this semester, do not fret! Go through your portfolio, your hallowed Google Drive folders and loose-leaf poetry. Spice it up! Next semester, you’ll have your chance to get some of that beautiful creativity in your brain published (Of course, you could still get your name on the book by attending three Opus meetings!).
A current Opus project aside from the traditional magazine is a collaborative piece with Hope’s Students Teaching and Empowering Peers (STEP) organization. The project, set to premiere tentatively in January of this academic year, focuses on survivor stories from sexual harassment and abuse.
The idea of taking on multiple projects at once is relatively new for Opus, and the excitement is clear. The idea started with the last Opus co-editor Julia Kirby (’20), who has now passed the idea and passion down to the current board members. It will be a culmination of poetry and prose as well as contributions from STEP. They are hoping to make this new project one that returns to campus every two years. Stay on the lookout, Hope!