Helicon fosters creativity and community through literature and art


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

Helicon Literary & Arts Magazine houses creative artistry across the NU community and beyond.

Astry Rodriguez, Reporter

From intricate, 20-page prose to emotional short stories and poems, Helicon — Northwestern’s student art and literary magazine — celebrates all forms of creative expression. 

The magazine, one of the older campus publications, allows students to experiment with scripts, creative nonfiction and fiction. The art section features visual mediums like collages, paintings, digital art and drawings. Spoken-word poetry, films, music, recorded plays and music videos also expand the publication’s online presence.

Helicon brings together the literary and artistic communities and unites people from all majors and experiences, according to Weinberg senior and Helicon Managing Editor Rachel Kantor. 

“Being an enabling platform for people to feel free to express themselves is definitely core to our mission,” said Medill senior Hannah Hall, Helicon’s operations editor.

To foster creativity, the magazine hosts workshops and open mic nights. 

Abeje Schnake, Helicon’s editor in chief, said community-building is also a central part of the publication, not only within the magazine, but also within the wider area, as workshops are open to the public.

“(Helicon) showcases creativity, originality, stuff that’s well-produced and reflects a zeitgeist of the current artistic culture at Northwestern,” the Weinberg senior said. “We aim to create a literary or artistic community on campus.”

The publication also partners with other campus groups like Brewbike, ARTica Studios and Wild Roots. Hall said the publication has held volunteer projects at Chicago Public Schools centered around creative writing and college application essay assistance.

Helicon publishes two issues a year, one in the winter and another in the spring. The winter 2022 issue is set to publish at the end of February with an in-person open-mic launch event. Submissions for the spring 2022 issue will open around the same time on the magazine’s website. 

Kantor said pieces can be emotionally vulnerable or formal, like a poem on racial struggle or an academic essay on photography. Submissions can also be conversational or comedic in tone, like one last year about the Cookie Monster, she said.

While there are no content specifications, students can submit a maximum of three pieces. Even so, the magazine usually racks up about 100 submissions per issue. Most of the submissions are poetry, Kantor said. 

One piece of submitted art is always displayed on the magazine cover and inspires the rest of the magazine’s contents. The spring 2021 issue’s cover featured Dōtonbori, Japan, to highlight the artist’s cultural heritage. The magazine’s content included Asian heritage and memory pieces, like a written work about Chinese New Year and a poem in Cantonese.  

The magazine occasionally chooses themed writing prompts for their website. One of the most recent prompts, called “Share Your 2020 Story,’” gave students a chance to share their pent-up pandemic feelings. Another prompt event, “On Earth,” featured student work that covered topics ranging from nature to climate change and sustainability. 

Kantor said Helicon is a unique space for students to share their otherwise personal content.

“I love the work that we produce, I love our magazines every year,” she said. “It’s just so exciting to get to see all these amazing pieces … because I think so much of this work, if Helicon didn’t exist, people wouldn’t really see.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @Astry_tpwk 

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