Opus is the literary and arts magazine at Hope College. Each semester they accept student submissions of poetry, art, photography and prose. Students are able to submit up to five pieces of their own work, which goes through a blind judging process in the decision of publication. This process takes place at Opus meetings throughout the duration of every semester. Open to all students, Opus staff gather to read the poems, examine the visual art, and offer constructive critique of the submissions they’ve received.
At the end of the semester, an event called Opus Soup is held in celebration of the new publication. This allows the student artists to read aloud their written work or explain their art to the community of Hope. It gives both faculty and students a chance to recognize and admire the artistic talent of Hope.
Beginning in 1954, Opus is one of the oldest student organizations here at Hope but has evolved over the years. Adriana Barker (’22), a co-editor of Opus, strives to establish and grow the community of artists here at Hope. With the English and Art departments at Hope being somewhat small, Opus has the opportunity to create a space for artists to feel like they belong and have their work appreciated and admired. “When I became co-editor, I really wanted Opus to be more community-focused,” Barker said, “I want people to feel like they have found their people.”
Barker admits that she has already seen growth. “Last semester there were 53 artists” Barker stated, “who submitted a total of 94 poems and 84 visual art pieces.” Alongside this exciting news, Barker mentioned that last semester’s Opus Soup “was the biggest Opus Soup we’ve had in anybody’s living memory on campus.”
Another exciting advancement in Opus is the launching of their new website, where the artists’ published work can be found. This provides an online space for the students’ published work to be showcased online, not just in a physical book. Also, Barker mentioned that both she and co-editor Violet Peschiera (’22) have been “working on reimagining the way the physical copies of Opus look.” These are all very exciting improvements for the Opus staff, but more importantly, for the community of artists at Hope.
Accepting new submissions every semester and keeping the meetings open for all, Opus provides a space for the freedom of creativity. Opus keeps the submissions open to any artist or writer who has something to share. “We don’t have limits on anything,” Barker said, “There’s not a certain amount of poetry, or a certain number of visual art pieces, or a certain number of prose pieces that we’re looking for.”
Emma Compton (’25), the prose editor, knew immediately that she wanted to get involved with Opus after attending the first few meetings of the previous semester. “I really enjoyed how seriously they were taking the artist’s work,” Compton said. In a typical meeting, students review the submissions, spending five minutes for constructive criticism for each individual piece before voting whether the piece should be published. In this holistic judging process, Opus keeps the artists anonymous in order to hone in on the art itself.
“Art is so profound and vulnerable,” Compton said, “and it’s such a powerful way to express yourself, and be able to not only talk about yourself but problems that you’re seeing in the world.” Furthermore, she emphasized the enjoyment that comes from exploring different ideas through forms of art, “It can be fun! Write a poem about pirates chilling, that’s fun!”
“Opus is really important to Hope because it provides a physical documentation of the artistic community here,” Barker said. If you enjoy expressing your creativity through any form of art, take advantage of this opportunity to get published in Hope’s literary and arts magazine. Keep an eye out for the submission deadlines, and stop by Opus meetings to join the vibrant community of artists here at Hope!
Find the latest issues of Opus on their website: https://opus.hope.edu
Follow Opus on Instagram @hopecollegeopus