This interview between Mel Bentley and Alex Smith 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. The transcription of this conversation was completed by Colette Arand.
Mel Bentley: So this is the second interview I’m conducting at Wexler Studio at Penn in the Kelly Writers’ House as a supplement to the Housework at Chapterhouse reading series. And today, I have the great honor of talking with Alex Smith, who has done a lot of work and been doing a lot of things in Philly organizing and writing and has just been a big presence in West Philly for a long time, and we get to have a conversation about his work and influences and some of the things that come up in his work today. So hi.