Mel Bentley with Jay Besemer

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Mel Bentley and Jay Besemer

This interview between Mel Bentley and Jay Besemer is part of the Housework at Chapterhouse series, a conversation between friends and with the history of this space. Housework is work undervalued, invisible, unpaid. It is classed, raced and gendered. It is also the work that allows life, it is “reproductive.” It is intimate. It’s necessary. It’s weird. It has been precarious. This is the kind of work we want to recognize.

Chapter and Verse was a series by Ryan Eckes and Stan Mir that ran for nine years at Chapterhouse and supported young writers and established voices. It supported us. There was something expansive and generous about this room that operated outside funding and institutions. We want to keep and expand that spirit.


Jay Besemer is the author of three full-length poetry collections [Chelate; Telephone; A New Territory Sought] and numerous chapbooks. His work is included in the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. Jay is a contributing editor with The Operating System. He lives in Chicago.

Mel Bentley organizes the reading series Housework at Chapterhouse. Their chapbook of poems called Bucolic Eclogues from a larger manuscript called Bucolic Eclogues was released from Lamehouse Press in July 2016.  Their chapbooks Obstacle, Particle, Spectacle, &parts, and Stub Wilderness were released from 89plus Luma Foundation, Damask Press and Well Greased Press, respectively. Vitrine released a tape of sounds labeled Red Green Blue.

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