Dominic Bucca is the author of Faculty Brat: A Memoir of Abuse, winner of the 2019 Iowa Prize for Literary Nonfiction.
At the most prestigious preparatory schools in the United States, the children of educators are referred to as “faculty brats.” Though generally lacking the privilege of the institution’s wealthy students, faculty brats enjoy access to the school’s extensive grounds and facilities and are part of everyday campus life.
Dominic Bucca’s art teacher mother married his music teacher stepfather twice, and the young boy wondered if their union might be twice as strong as a result. Instead, he quickly discovered that the marriage was twice as flawed. When Bucca was nine years old, his stepfather began sexually abusing him in the faculty housing attached to the boys’ dorm his parents oversaw. Years later, he found escape by reaching out to his real dad, and learned to split his life between two realities.
For nearly twenty-five years, Bucca hid the secret of his stepfather’s abuse from his mother and sisters. When he finally decided to tell, hoping to prevent his stepfather from continuing to teach young boys, Bucca discovered the limits of both his family and the legal system.
I grew up in two distinct worlds. In the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut, my mother and stepfather taught art and music to the privileged students of private boarding schools. In western Maryland’s Appalachian foothills, my father and stepmother owned and operated restaurants together. Two teachers and two chefs. Two parents who valued education above all; two committed to the value of hard work at least as much as each other. Both sets of parents working class, all artists in various disciplines, all living and working in surprisingly reflective worlds despite their diametric differences.
While my own life and work has reflected each of those poles at one time or another, it’s the intersections that exist between that most inform my writing. Intersections of class and geography, privilege and poverty, parents and children, family and legacy: in exploring these often difficult spaces, I seek better understanding of my own experience and the influences that inform it. In sharing that exploration, I hope readers will find resonance leading to understanding of their own.
Mostly I write what I remember, hope to find meaning in it, and hope that you will, too.
Dominic Bucca has earned a living in just about every position one might occupy in food service, from dishwasher to waitron to sommelier. He’s also been a carpenter’s helper, a teacher, a graphic designer, a bottle-and-can-redemption-center-sorter, an advertising salesperson, a professional student, an admissions counselor, a landscaper, an oenological consultant, and finally a writer. A graduate of Goddard College IBA program (2012) and Vermont College of Fine Arts, he lives in New Jersey and Prince Edward Island, where he’s currently working on his next writing project while renovating the century house on the red sand shore he shares with his wife, writer and educator Kate Bucca, and two perpetually hungry cats, Barney and Snack.
Tuesday, March 3, 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm, Haybarn Theatre
Free and open to the public.
Sponsored by the Undergraduate Studies Program.