The Artistic Life
By Kevin Marchand, ’16
As is often the case, when she came to Roger Williams University in 2003, Nora Almeida did not know what she wanted to study—or even what she wanted to do. After taking a few courses towards an education major, and then contemplating Marine Biology, Nora eventually gravitated toward her passion: Poetry. Before long she was enrolled in a number of Creative Writing and English Literature courses, which became her major and minor respectively.
Nora spent the rest of her days at RWU devoted to the arts. Thinking back to those days, Nora remembers “driving around with a miniature tape recorder in the glove compartment so that I could ‘write’ while driving around campus.”
Following her graduation, Nora headed to Brooklyn College, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts in Poetry. She’d been eager to get out of Rhode Island. “I grew up in Warren,” she says, “and I was tired of living right outside of my hometown. I was beginning to feel a bit like a townie.”
Unfortunately, when Nora graduated from Brooklyn College, the effects of the 2008 recession were being felt everywhere. She spent the next year juggling a number of part time jobs, which made “me become broke and sick of the city.” Her frustration led to a year of traveling, eventually landing in Tennessee and rural Georgia. In the south, she found a variety of positions—from working as an adjunct professor to volunteering at a few local libraries. All the meanwhile, Nora continued to write her poetry and hone her craft. But looking ahead, she did feel the need to create a less transient life.
In 2010, Nora returned to New York City to attend the Pratt Institute’s Masters in Library and Information Science program. It was a career that made sense to her. While in the south, she had taken an affinity toward working in libraries. Now she’d be able to combine her passion and commitment to the literary arts with her vocation.
Nora is currently the Reserve Coordinator at Baruch College’s William and Anita Newman Library in New York City. As the Reserve Coordinator, Nora “occupies a curricular support role in the library” – a term that can be used to describe any academic service or function that is peripheral to a curriculum but is important for that curriculum to be ‘realized.’ As Nora explains it: “I support students and faculty by providing access to and managing resources that they need for their courses (some of these resources would not otherwise be available and some would not otherwise be as accessible). In the same way, a University IT department might provide technology for use in the classroom.”
As if that were not enough to fill her days, Nora is also the founding editor of a literary magazine called Staging Ground, a print magazine that focuses on visual art and poetry, including original works, works in translation, interviews, and artist features.. (It also publishes original content on their website.) Nora says, “We’ve had two print issues so far, this first coming in October 2012, but would ideally like to move to a bi-annual release schedule, money permitting.”
Between the time she devotes to her job in the library and the never-ending work she does for Staging Ground, Nora is demonstrating what it takes to make it as an artist in today’s world. The passion for writing that was lit inside of her at Roger Williams University is still a big part of how she lives her life. Clearly, the flames that ignited in her car so long ago still burn bright.
Behind the Book takes an in depth look at the world of the book through articles and interviews about the creative process, issues in publishing, and the writing life.