Dirty Joke: a work of autofiction

Dirty Joke: a work of autofiction

From Corinne Manning

I am seeking funds to attend the Autobiographical Fiction program at the BANFF Center in Canada and to visit the radical land project Comune Urupia in Puglia, Italy. This research will support my novel Dirty Joke.

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Update #3

3 months ago

I’m writing this on my bed, my kitty napping at my feet, just a few days before I leave for Italy. I got home from BANFF on Sunday and am still feeling the effects of that landscape, the generosity of The Banff Centre and Electric Literature for the space they held. Twenty writers all working in autobiography and autofiction came together for two weeks. I had the opportunity to work closely with Halimah Marcus and to meet and have conversations with Dionne Brand and Susan Choi. Something I loved about the program was the way all the residents were able to jump to the heart of the issues in our work, so many of us writing about intergenerational trauma or stories that, in the telling, complicate our lives. Dionne Brand, in her talk on autobiography, paraphrased the Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci and explained how distinctly political autobiography is because it takes the things in our world that we refuse to look at, that are too painful and asserts that we must look at them. And in a culture of continuous amnesia autobiography and fiction are the primary ways that we actually have a record for what’s occurred.

For those of you who gave at the broadside level, I’ll have those out to you these week. There are still a few saints to be canonized. And, in November, a dinner to be cooked.

Thank you all for your support and for this opportunity. More to come from Italy.

With love,
Corinne

More Info

Mary Ann is a queer writer making money writing straight erotica when the depth of her family's abuse becomes clear to her. The secondary themes of the book involve frozen Italian history, white supremacy, and generations of assimilation: Jewish to Catholic, Tunisian to Italian, queer to straight. Mary Ann writes, “I used to think my mother dying would end the abuse. But now I know it might not even die with me.” 

The Book

How did 20th century Italian immigrants, driven by cultural nostalgia and historical trauma, escape abusive family dynamics only to perpetuate them in their own American homes and call it culture? 

What effect did diaspora have on the children and grandchildren of Italians immigrating between 1920 and 1950s, and how did they freeze in time culturally while missing the end of sharecropping, the rise of the  labor movement, and the feminist movement in their ancestors’ home country? 

Dirty Joke is a cultural history of the violence of assimilation and the dual diaspora of immigration and choosing to heal generational sexual and physical abuse; as well as an international exploration of the roots of capitalism and how we protect it through the violence in our families. 

The Money

I am seeking funds to attend the Autobiographical Fiction program at the BANFF Center in Canada and to visit the radical land project Comune Urupia in Puglia, Italy. 

This trip to Italy will be the first in a series for me to explore the distinction between Italian American and Italian culture; to understand the issue of Italian land rights in the south; and research radical political movements in the past and present day. This particular research trip will include travel through Naples to my mom's family's town Gioi and then on to Puglia. $2600 will cover my flight, travel and incidentals within Italy. I will be staying for free at Comune Urupia and working alongside the community. 

The Autofiction program at the BANFF Centre is co-hosted by Electric Literature. I have received a scholarship and need $1300 to cover my flight to Calgary and room and board. This program will enable me to work on this book while receiving feedback from writers Meredith Talusan and Susan Choi. I will also gain some new key connections that will help further my career. 

The Reason

“You wouldn’t mind it so much if you didn’t make a big deal out of it,” has said almost every family in the U.S. We’ve inherited the desire to feel less.

I originally began Dirty Joke in 2014, as a simple reimagining of my family-- if I had chosen to stay in New Jersey and remain rooted in Italian family and tradition. Would I still be closeted to my family? In 2018, when more information about abuse and family history was revealed I noticed that much of my writing was about sexual abuse but wasn't calling it as such, including this book. I began a rewrite as a means of survival and to feel into the connection between abuse and state oppression,  assimilation and racism, and the comfort of perpetuation. 

By sorting out the connection of abuse of power in state and families I believe the novel has the capacity to cut through nostalgia, look closely at oppressive power structures,  and imagine something else. 

Risks and Challenges 

I have completed a book of short stories exploring queer relationships and complicity called We Had No Rules and a novel, Potential Monsters,  about mass violence. I have also founded various cultural projects such as The James Franco Review, which addressed bias in the publishing industry. Though the James Franco Review achieved national attention, and every story from my collection has been published, I still am at work getting each of these books published. Investing in Dirty Joke is investing in the development of these ideas and my continued resiliency and dedication to making my work publicly available. Please consider contributing to this Fundly by giving a financial gift that is meaningful to you.

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Corinne Manning posted a new update:
3 months ago

Update #3

I’m writing this on my bed, my kitty napping at my feet, just a few days before I leave for Italy. I got home from BANFF on Sunday and am still feeling the effects of that landscape, the generosity of The Banff Centre and Electric Literature for the space they held. Twenty writers all working in autobiography and autofiction came together for two weeks. I had the opportunity to work closely with Halimah Marcus and to meet and have conversations with Dionne Brand and Susan Choi. Something I loved about the program was the way all the residents were able to jump to the heart of the issues in our work, so many of us writing about intergenerational trauma or stories that, in the telling, complicate our lives. Dionne Brand, in her talk on autobiography, paraphrased the Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci and explained how distinctly political autobiography is because it takes the things in our world that we refuse to look at, that are too painful and asserts that we must look at them. And in a culture of continuous amnesia autobiography and fiction are the primary ways that we actually have a record for what’s occurred.

For those of you who gave at the broadside level, I’ll have those out to you these week. There are still a few saints to be canonized. And, in November, a dinner to be cooked.

Thank you all for your support and for this opportunity. More to come from Italy.

With love,
Corinne

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Corinne Manning posted a new update:
5 months ago

Update #2

I'm still trying to get my feet under me over the fact that this happened. Thank you all so much for your generosity, for dealing with my incessant posting about this and for the manipulative manipulated photos I put on facebook. I may share an update here once I'm in Italy in September with some photos as I research-- real photos where I haven't photoshopped myself in.

My story collection We Had No Rules will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in the Spring of 2020. So as I work on creating this new book Dirty Joke, I feel so honored to get to offer you a book that can make its way on to a book shelf in just a few months. These few weeks have been filled with teaching and sorting out details for the collection's spring release. But I haven't forgotten your gifts.

For those of you waiting for Saint Anthony info, broadsides, and consultations, you'll be hearing from me soon. My plan is to have all resolved before I leave for Banff on August 11th.

All my love and gratitude,

Corinne

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Corinne Manning posted a new update:
7 months ago

Update #1

I'm so moved that in just a few days I've met 25% of my goal, which means I'll be going to BANFF. Thank you. Now on to the Puglia portion of my research. Thank you again for your donations and for continuing to share this campaign. It's humbling to make this ask and the support for this project is blowing my mind. xoxo

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