Color photograph of the head and torso of Jessica Hagedorn

Jessica Hagedorn

John Guare Writers Fund Rome Prize, a gift of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman
September 6, 2021–February 7, 2022
Poet, Novelist, Playwright, and Multimedia Artist, New York
Project title
Saturday Night At Lung Fung’s
Project description

I plan to work on a hybrid memoir called Saturday Night At Lung Fung’s. The title refers to Lung Fung Restaurant, which flourished in Manhattan’s Chelsea district during the Seventies. Lung Fung was famous for its Cuban Chinese food, low prices, indifferent service, and tolerant, melancholy atmosphere. It was one of the places where a lot of broke and hungry young artists—including me—could afford to eat. My book is about—among many things—the gritty Seventies and Eighties, and vanished havens like Lung Fung. It’s about my Catholic, colonial upbringing in the Philippines, my broken family, and my wild coming of age as a writer in America. It’s about my funk/punk band, The Gangster Choir. There is much to remember, much to say about being a woman and an immigrant writer, much to say about making music, the process of aging and the struggle to remain vital and creative. I see my memoir evolving into a potent mix of autobiographical text, images, imaginary interviews, historical documents, punk feminist manifestos, and other elements.

The photograph of Jessica Hagedorn was taken by Renée Montagne.