Jessica Goudeau is a writer, editor, and academic. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Vox.com, Muftah, Image Journal, Geez, and Poetry Daily, among other places. She tweets as @jessica_goudeau and has a Facebook writer page. (If you want to get in touch, send a message there.)
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. She is a longtime refugee advocate. While she was in graduate school, she was also the co-founder and executive director of Hill Country Hill Tribers, a non-profit working with Burmese refugee artisans living in Austin. Her co-founders include her friend, Caren George, who is brilliant and funny and Jessica’s fairly constant partner-in-crime, and her husband Jonathan, who remains the most intriguing man she’s ever met and who loves her enough to let her talk about him on the internet sometimes.
Jessica is currently working on a community memoir about their years befriending refugees in the throes of resettlement in Austin; she writes about her refugee friends on her blog, but all of them like to use pseudonyms in this political environment, so she’s careful what she says online. Her refugee friends have asked her to write about their experiences, which is why she started the book in the first place. In it, she also comes to terms with the intellectual history of her own do-gooding tendencies. Jessica remains close friends with refugees to this day; she’s recently been getting to know the Syrian refugee community.
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 case anyone is interested in other aspects of Jessica’s terribly eclectic career, here are some more details: once Jessica worked as an associate editor for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, where 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 (and 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 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 Scrabble). She does that as often as she can.
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 Portunhol). She’ll tell you she also speaks a little Thai and several phrases in various Burmese dialects, but she can’t help you do much more than order good food occasionally. Once she bought some French CDs, which totally counts as “about to learn French.” She lives in Austin with Jonathan, their three brilliant, hilarious, and ever-delightful daughters, and a recalcitrant puppy. (Headshot by Joel Goudeau.)