Opsis hopes to change literature

The new staff at Opsis, MSU’s only literary magazine, is working to change what is defined as literature and writing. “We have come to define literary arts on the Montana State campus as being student created work. Before, Opsis was just for poetry, fiction and nonfiction writing. This year our main goal is to expand our audience,” said Kelsey Weyerbacher, Opsis’ editor-in-chief. “It’s going to be such a multitude of things in such a small book. I think people are going to be surprised by where submissions are coming from.”

The concept of the modern literature journal is new to campus and has been changing ever since the first edition of Read This was produced in 2006. Read This was published originally on newspaper pages as a literary journal. After a rocky start and a yearlong hiatus in 2011, the journal came back in 2012. The next year it was published on stapled magazine pages. Just last year the journal was published under the new name, Opsis, as a professionally bound book.

As a student-run journal, the project always has a fluctuating staff. According to Weyerbacher, “We don’t have anyone from when [the literary magazine] started, faculty or students. Our leadership is completely new. We’re changing the size; we’re changing the layout, and we’re changing the material itself.”

Professor Zachary Bean, who serves as the faculty advisor for Opsis, elaborated, “We provide a showcase for all of the talented students in the MSU community who are using their skill and imagination to make things … For many of these students, they’ve created really cool stuff that no one knows about because there’s not another venue for sharing their work.”

Bean has previously worked as a fiction editor for Gulf Coast Magazine and served as the Graduate Student Advisor for Glass Mountain: The Undergraduate Literary Journal at the University of Houston. “With [Bean’s] experience,” said Weyerbacher, “and the potential we have based on leadership, we can get really far. I want people to see what we do here and broadcast that nationally. Our long term goal is to make [Opsis] a national circulation.”

Weyerbacher, approached personally by Bean for the post of editor-in-chief, began her work by sending an email to every college at MSU. “We have submissions from places we wouldn’t normally ever hear from, just as a result of sending an email and seeing what we can do,” she said. She had set a goal at the beginning to see at least one submission each from the Colleges of Architecture and Engineering — greatly underrepresented departments on the literary scene. “We’re working really hard on getting submissions from all over campus. What we have so far is definitely a larger variety than what we’ve ever had before,” she said. “I think Opsis’s affiliation with the English department leads people to believe it only applies to people who do creative writing or are in the arts programs. Opsis is there as something for people who don’t otherwise have options to display their work. They have somewhere to be seen.”

The focus for the Opsis staff right now is to get submissions, make their decisions, and get the book to the local public. Set to hit stands all over Bozeman and the MSU campus on April 20, the editors have a quick turnaround. After the submissions come in, explained Weyerbacher, the staff has less than a month until their decisions have to be finalized. She added that “the designer has to have everything done in two weeks and we send it off to publishing.”

Despite their demanding deadlines, Weyerbacher asked that everyone submit. She said, laughing, “We don’t know what we’re doing, but we’re excited about it. It’s fun because we have all these people on staff who have such a cool vision and are so excited about being able to show what people do. Now it’s all dependent on submissions.”

Submissions can be sent to msuopsis@gmail.com and are due by Feb. 20.