Writer and artist Delia LaJeunesse
For example, this month Stain’d
We spoke with LaJeunesse about her vision for Stain’d, the art community of Denver, and why you shouldn’t submit a Twilight-themed essay for the third edition of the magazine, which is all about “Blood.”
Westword: What is Stain’d?
Where did you and Noah Kaplan come up with the idea for Stain’d?
I ran a little feminist zine in college called Coin-op, and it sort of morphed from that. I was very much focused on the feminist side of things [with Coin-Op] and less concerned with craft. Not to stay that we stepped away from feminism in any way, but [Stain’d] lets more nuance in. I came together with the co-founder Noah Kaplan with an idea of starting a publishing house. ... It has spiraled, hopefully not out of control [laughs].
Did you always envision something beyond the publication?
No. It’s been unfurling. The idea of publishing anything was a big project when we first got started with it. We are starting to build our support, but it’s been slow. It’s been two and a half years
We just filed with the IRS for nonprofit status, so we formed a community advisory board — people who have been contributing to Stain’d, who we do collaborations with or who have expertise in the art or nonprofit world. We also have a
How has the community of Denver helped foster the scene for Stain’d?
There are a lot of hungry people who show up to these events and who submit, and their energy has pushed this all forward. If we didn’t have so many people participating in whatever capacity, I would have burned out.
Oh, man, in every way. This is 100 percent passion. I primarily identify as a writer, but also as a visual artist. I feel via Stain’d, we have been able to have these really honest and in-depth conversations about topics, which is hard to get in other parts of life but is so magical when it happens, when you can have a subtle dialogue about something difficult.
What is Stain’d Arts doing currently?
We are about to release the second volume of our publication, which is centering on “Shame.” We are [publishing] a poetry anthology this summer, and we run an open mic once a month with facilitation by Danny Mazur of Soul Stories. With Soul Stories, we just finished up our first storytelling event, and Stain’d
Can you tell us a little bit about the open mic at Whittier Cafe? How did this event get started?
My partner in all of this used to run an open mic in Fort Collins, and it felt like this special space. I mean, all open mics feel special in a weird way because it’s a space where people can try things out, and it felt like a great way to engage with people in the community.
The first one was in November, and we’ve asked Danny, who is also on the community advisory board, to facilitate the event. Somewhere in the planning process, we decided to have a featured artist at the end of each open mic to highlight talent in the community. It feels important to celebrate...we have had musicians and poets almost exclusively featured, but ranging in talent.
For Stain’d Magazine, where do the themes originate from?
The first theme was “Masculinity." It was decided in 2017, which felt extremely pertinent given the political climate and all of that shit. From there we did a survey of people who financially contributed to the magazine [and asked] them to throw out an idea for the next theme, and Noah and I picked what seemed interesting, expansive — a topic that can be really narrowed and broad.
Our submission is now open through the end of June, and the subject is “Blood” [laughs] – so whatever that means to you. And we take submissions in anything that can be printed: poetry, prose, nonfiction, fiction, paintings, drawings, photography. We haven’t had cartoons yet, but that would be cool. It’s taking a topic and finding a way to represent it in a way that is unfamiliar or unusual. Just no Twilight shit. I’m not saying no to vampires, but keep it to a minimum.
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Who do you think your audience is for Stain’d?
I think it’s more specific than I want to admit. I think there are people who it doesn’t work for. I think you have to be down with being a little uncomfortable.
It’s largely positive feedback, particularly regarding the publication. But I think some people are confused by it: You pick up the magazine with the title "Masculinity," and you may have assumptions about what is in there...and it ends up being work to understand what your presumptions were going in. I get why it’s off-putting.
Stain'd Open Mic at Whittier Cafe, 7 p.m. Friday, March 16,