Q&A with Marisol Gouveia

January 23, 2024
15 min read
Q&A #011: Marisol Gouveia, Director of Engagement at Indiana Humanities

It's January, Friends! Hope this missive finds you cozy and well.

Great to be with you, and share some special offerings before OIP comes to a close in February.

To start off our finale celebration, we have a Q&A with Marisol Gouveia, Director of Engagement at Indiana Humanities.
All of us at OIP are so grateful for the role Indiana Humanities plays in our home state, and we will never be able to fully express how much we've appreciated the support and thoughtfulness of the incredible folks who work there. They have been beyond amazing to us!
Today, we have the opportunity to meet up with Marisol Gouveia, their Director of Engagement, and learn more from her.
Marisol serves as the director of engagement at Indiana Humanities, helping guide the organization’s communications, fundraising and community engagement efforts. She earned her degree in Classical Civilizations from Howard University, and began her career as a copy editor at The Indianapolis Star. She serves on the boards of Indy Reads, Leadership Indianapolis and Near East Area Renewal, and is a member of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series Class XLI.
Marisol is a native of Trinidad and Tobago and is yet to meet a dog or cat she doesn’t instantly love. Within her lives a trivia buff, a Whovian, a culinary enthusiast, a reader and listener (audiobooks are wonderful), a slightly obsessive gardener — native plants, fruit, vegetables and houseplants – and an art appreciator. She is committed to serving the city and state that have become her home.
Without further ado...Meet Marisol!
Marisol Gouveia at the Humanities on the Hill event

At OIP, we love the fact that everyone has their own set of "classics" (i.e., books, songs, recipes, comics, food, objects, movies, shows, etc. that shaped you). What were some of your favorite childhood "classics"?


I grew up in Trinidad & Tobago, and so many of my childhood “classics” are either homegrown Trini or British, as Great Britain colonized our Caribbean island nation from 1797 to 1962 when we gained independence. So both the stories of Paul Keens-Douglas and skits of Monty Python informed my sense of humor. I loved folklore, including stories of douens and Papa Bois, as much as I loved my Ladybird Books Well Loved Tales collection and Asterix comics (French, I know). I listened to David Rudder and The Police in equal quantities. And TV was as much No Boundaries and Calabash Alley as it was Are You Being Served? and Desmond’s. Cultural collisions big time.


At OIP, we love uncategorizable work, and we’re such fans of the reels you make on IG, Marisol. How do you bring a poetic sensibility to your Reels? Any tips?


Focus on communicating about what you love and like, and that affection will shine through in the images, clips and sounds you select. Approach it as a chore and the reluctance will seep through the screen to the viewer.


Favorite word / font / letter?


I’ve always been fascinated by the word “defenestrate” for its utter specificity. According to Merriam-Webster, its primary meaning is “a throwing of a person or thing out of a window.” No endorsement of the action but appreciation for the word.

I have a fondness for sans-serif fonts like Century Gothic for their simplicity.

And can any letter be better than X for its infinite mystery and variability? It marks the spot!


We’re so grateful for your work, and the role Indiana Humanities plays in our state. You do so many things in and for our community. Is there some essential spirit with which you approach all your different roles, or does each role and project feed a different part of your creative soul?


I find joy in the humanities every day, and I am grateful that it’s my job to find ways to share that joy with other people. At Indiana Humanities, everything we do is guided by our values of inclusivity, curiosity, community, creativity and partnership. We take those values very seriously and use them as lenses through which we plan and carry out our work. Personally, they are great reminders of why we do what we do, and in them I find freedom and inspiration rather than restriction.

At the Etheridge Knight mural dedication in Indianapolis

Snacks while you work–yes/no? If yes, what’s your go-to?


Of course and at Indiana Humanities, there always seems to be an abundance of nuts available for snacking. In particular, pistachios (in the shell, for an additional challenge) have captured our hearts.


What are some of your favorite tools-of-the-trade?


My old-school heart loves good pens, especially red ones to mark up proofs. My favorite has been the Uniball Vision Needle (fine) for many years, but I’m open to suggestions! I love style guides (AP, since I used to be a newspaper copy editor), language reference books with a sense of humor (Le Mot Juste, my copy of which I treasure) and a good thesaurus is always clutch.


You are hosting a party. Who’s coming? Where and when? What’s being served? (Fictional characters and locales are welcome.)  


You’re invited: Dinner on a cool fall evening, in a lush garden near the sea. Food by me and my buddies Sohla El-Waylly and Yotam Ottolenghi. Please engage in thought-provoking conversation with your fellow dinner guests: musician Nina Simone; seed sovereignty activist Vandana Shiva; author and poet Hanif Abdurraqib; environmental activist Wangari Maathai; legendary jazz drummer Max Roach; author Alan Moore; librarian and educator Tracie D. Hall; and activist, educator and mother Mamie Till Mobley. Arrive with an empty stomach and an open mind.

Marisol with Tracie D. Hall

What mashups do you wish existed?


I’d love to see a good food culture clash/mashup moderated by culinary historians. There are so many similarities in the dishes of different cultures that, at first glance, don’t have much in common, but upon a closer look themes emerge. I see that when I look at the food cultures of my home and of Singapore, two very different places but both deeply multicultural with robust street food scenes and obsession with the next meal. The humanities person in me would love to see experts in two different cuisines talk and cook together while comparing ingredients and dishes, with context provided by the historian. Singaporean Trini food? Ethiopian Mexican food? So much fun (and delicious for the lucky audience)!


What are some things you enjoy doing off-screen?


Regardless of the season, you’ll find me dreaming about my garden. In winter, I’m buried in seed catalogs imagining what I’m going to plant as soon as the cold breaks. (And trying desperately to edit myself because I only have a bungalow’s little backyard to play with!) In spring, the joyous work begins as I grow starts (most of which I give away), direct sow and tuck seeds in every nook and cranny of soil. Summer brings the bounty … and the heat! I try not to lose heart as the mercury soars. Fall slows things down, gives a last heave of a harvest, then brings the cycle of life for most of the garden to a close, just in time to start thinking of next season.

At Indy Urban Acres

Any recommendations for the OIP community? What have you been enjoying lately? Or what is something you are working on currently that you would like to share?


2024 is an Indiana Authors Awards award year. The nominated books have come in and we’re all excited to see the range of authors and titles submitted. As we plan the communications for summer’s shortlist and winner announcements, I’m eager to continue to meet and celebrate our authors who are dedicated to their craft. That’s a real perk of the job to me – to be charged with uplifting all these voices. It’s a treat and I hope readers will join us for the ride and get as excited as we are about the literary talent in our state!

At the Kekla Magoon event in Fort Wayne
Celebrating Indiana Humanities 50th anniversary

Thank you so very much, Marisol!

Discover more at Indiana Humanities (including a call-out for the 2024 Indiana Eclipse Poetry Contest!), and make sure to follow along with the Indiana Authors Awards in 2024.

Join us in the coming days as we continue to celebrate our final goodbyes with more special offerings!

And, if you'd like to read more about the making of Playing Authors, check Issue #003 of The Gutenborg Project. In this edition, Alex and Drake take us on a voyage Through The Loupe! (Want even more? Check out Issues #001 and #002.)

From everyone at OIP, all the very best in this year and beyond!


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