Jessica Goudeau is a writer, scholar, entrepreneur, teacher, and editor. She is currently writing a book for Viking Press about refugees as they begin the resettlement process, slated for fall 2019. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Washington Post, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, Vox, Muftah, Image Journal, and Poetry Daily, among other places (see her Selected Publications page). She tweets as @jessica_goudeau and is on Facebook. She is represented by Mackenzie Brady Watson.
Jessica is currently working on a book about refugees in the throes of resettlement in Austin. If you want to support refugees, she recommends Syrian American Refugee Aid, Refugee Services of Texas, Multicultural Refugee Coalition, Caritas of Austin, and iAct as amazing places doing great work that are worthy of your volunteer time and definitely your donations.
In addition to writing a book, Jessica is launching a business with her husband Jonathan, Otter Pass, in September 2016. Otter Pass designs high-quality products for dads; 10% of the net proceeds from each sale will support nonprofits working with refugees and they hope to provide jobs for refugees as the company grows.
Jessica has a doctorate in literature from the University of Texas at Austin and served most recently as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Interim Writing Center Director at Southwestern University, where she also taught courses in literature and Feminist Studies. While she was in graduate school, she was also the executive director of Hill Country Hill Tribers, a non-profit working with Burmese refugee artisans living in Austin which she co-founded with her husband, Jonathan, and their friend, Caren George.
Her career has always been eclectic: she worked as an associate editor for the Dictionary of Literary Biography and she went through the Kafka-esque experience of trying to find rare Portuguese-language books at the Biblioteca Nacional de Chile, where books are organized by size (there are an amazing amount of 17th century French maritime books, all surprisingly small). She was also an associate editor at Texas Studies in Literature and Language (still one of her favorite jobs) and got to read fascinating articles on a variety of literature. Her dissertation examined issues of representations in mid-twentieth century inter-American poetry, particularly the way the poet Elizabeth Bishop wrote about Brazil. The six people who read it all agree it is the best dissertation on Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil that has been written in the last five years (or at least, one of three–it’s a toss-up). Occasionally Jessica still writes academic things, but increasingly rarely, though she still finds translating poetry relaxing, the way some people love crossword puzzles.
Jessica took several years to travel before getting her PhD, which she recommends to all of her students: Jessica and Jonathan lived abroad for years in Thailand, Brazil, and Chile, among other places. She speaks Portuguese and Spanish (and mixes the two in a nice blend of Portuñol). She’ll tell you she also speaks a little Thai and several phrases in various Burmese dialects, but really she can’t do much more than help you order good food or ask where the bathroom is. Once she bought some French CDs, which totally counts as “about to learn French.” She lives in Austin with Jonathan, their three brilliant and hilarious daughters, and a recalcitrant dog named Roux. (Headshot by Joel Goudeau.)