Looking for art, literature, and community? Here’s an inside look at OPUS!

OPUS is Hope College’s literary and arts magazine. Beginning in 1954, OPUS continues to showcase visual art, poetry, and prose in issues published each semester.

Eileen Ellis (‘23) is a senior at Hope College and is the Co-Editor of OPUS. Ellis is majoring in English with an emphasis in creative writing. Ellis is one of two co-editors on the OPUS staff as Lindsay Jankowski (’23) is the other co-editor. Ellis shares her own experience participating in OPUS and what OPUS is all about.

Why did you decide to join OPUS?

Ellis states, “I decided to join because I was not involved in anything else on campus, so when I learned about it my sophomore year, I was really intrigued. It was actually the old co-editor Adrianna Barker who I had a class with and she was telling us all about it. I thought that was super interesting, and so I learned more about it and started attending meetings virtually because of COVID-19 which I wasn’t a huge fan of. I was super happy when we were back in person, but yeah, it was kind of her telling the class about it that got me into it.” 

Ellis goes further to describe OPUS as being a creative and free space. She describes the learning environment of OPUS as she states, “We have open meetings where people can come and see how our critiques work and at the end we send feedback to everyone on their work whether or not they got in. So the whole thing is a way to learn and grow, both as a writing and artistic community, which I think is really cool.” She describes that community is a big part of OPUS. Anyone is welcome to submit their artwork and writing, and the applicant will always receive feedback from the OPUS staff. “Hope can feel like you have to fit a certain mold and you have to fit a certain expectation and with OPUS it’s not like that, at least it has not felt that way to me. It feels like, come as you are and we will celebrate all that you do because of that,” Ellis states.

All about OPUS:

Meetings are held in Martha Miller 151 from 7 to 9 pm. Meetings officially begin Tuesday, February 2nd, 2023. At this time, submissions have been closed and it is officially “meeting season,” as Ellis describes it. “We sort all of our submissions into different folders and divide it up by meeting. So, during our meeting season, we spend one half looking at poetry and the other half looking at art. And we take about 5 minutes for each piece to either read it or look at it and offer comments and feedback. Anyone can come, anyone can talk, whether you’re on our staff or a contributor or just checking it out. Anything anyone says is welcome and appreciated. I think that is also a part of the community aspect because not only are we interested in hearing and seeing the work people have, but then we want to hear what people think about it. So that’s really exciting.” However, all of this work is specifically for art and poetry. When it comes to prose, Ellis describes a whole separate process as she states, “For our prose, we actually have a meeting with editors only because it’s a huge packet of writing that we have to read in advance. So that’s how our decision process works then it is after we talk about a piece, people vote on it, whether it gets in or not.” Recently, the OPUS staff changed the voting rules, stating that contributors can vote after they have attended three or more meetings.

Students who want to contribute to the OPUS arts and literary magazine can do so when OPUS opens submissions. Dates and times for this can be found on the OPUS Instagram page, OPUS website, and through contacting the OPUS email. Currently, submissions are closed. Ellis states that there is a private email list that contributors will be put on in order to receive dates and information about OPUS throughout the semester. “We have to pre-plan when things are going out and send it a day or so in advance. We mostly communicate through our email list, just because for the newsletter they don’t post regular meeting times and information, so if we have weekly meetings that’s not what they post about. So, our email list has the material we are going to look at during meetings and people can look at that in advance if they like and we send out when our meetings are.”

What is OPUS Soup?

At the end of the publication of the OPUS magazine, OPUS holds an event called an OPUS Soup. So, what is an OPUS Soup? “It’s a chance for all of our published writers and artists to show what they got in the magazine. So our writers can stand at the podium and read their work. They are given a few minutes to explain whatever aspect of it they might like, what inspired it, how they wrote it, the process, that kind of thing. For artists we have a big projector that displays their art on the screen, and they can explain how they did it, the materials, and what made them think of doing that piece. Essentially, it’s a big celebration of our community.” A recording of an OPUS Soup can be found at the bottom of this article.

What does joining OPUS look like?

“So for our staff, usually that’s something the co-editors pick. We normally do a google form people fill out, and after receiving submissions we look through it and schedule interviews and then the two co-editors do the interviews and make the decision.” Next fall, OPUS will have many openings for staff positions as many of the OPUS staff are current seniors.

“For contributors, anyone can come as long as you hit that three-meeting minimum then you get your name in the book and get to vote so that’s super exciting. We have two staff members that will remain next semester, both co-editors are graduating and then we have three other editors that are graduating, and our social media girl is graduating so we will be looking to fill those positions and start the process of reaching out to the campus, so that will be exciting.”

If students have any further questions, they can contact the OPUS email: opus@hope.edu

OPUS Soup video: Spring 2022 Soup

[Photo credit: OPUS Instagram Page]

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