Niskayuna native Michele Battiste has had a passion for writing poetry since she was 10 but says she wasn’t always so good at it.
“My father was always encouraging, and I loved writing poetry when I was young, but I always have to add the caveat that even though I wrote for a long time, I was really bad at it,” she said.
Battiste, now a resident of Boulder, Colorado, will be at the Schenectady County Public Library at 2 p.m. Sunday to discuss her two latest books, “Uprising” and “Ink for an Odd Cartography.”
“When I discovered how bad I was in my early 20s, I started reading more contemporary poets. I went back to school and made an effort to improve my craft, and as a result I had a rebirth.”
Battiste will join College of Saint Rose English professor Barbara Ungar on Sunday for “Two Hungarian Dames: A Poetry Reading.” The two women, both of Hungarian ancestry, have produced poems that explore the lives of earlier family members and the legacies they left behind.
The author of five chapbooks, Battiste was a finalist for the 2013 National Poetry Series, and has received numerous foundation grants to support her work, including a Jerome Foundation grant to do research in Budapest for her most recent book, “Uprising,” published in 2014.
‘Two Hungarian Dames: A Poetry Reading’
WHAT: Poetry readings by Michele Battiste and Barbara Ungar
WHERE: 2 p.m. Sunday, McChesney Room, Schenectady County Public Library, 99 Clinton St., Schenectady
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: 388-4500, www.scpl.org
“I don’t get to make my living writing poetry, but it has given me some wonderful opportunities to travel, to meet people and to do research,” said Battiste, who works as a fundraiser for a non-profit in Boulder.
“I started writing for chapbooks in 2004, and had my first full-length book in 2009, so these have been very exciting times for me. On Sunday, I’ll be reading poetry about my family and their struggle in Hungary after World War II during the Soviet occupation.”
Battiste grew up on Niskayuna Drive in Niskayuna, graduated from Niskayuna High in 1989 and the University at Albany in 1995, and got her MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University.
She counts Nedra Stimpfle and Mary Jewett (English), Richard Evans (history) and Roy Jewett (science) among her favorite teachers at Niskayuna.
While at Wichita State, where she has conducted poetry writing workshops, Battiste worked with Albert Goldbarth, the person she considers “America’s greatest living poet.”
Ungar’s most recent works include “Immortal Medusa” and “Charlotte Bronte, You Ruined My Life,” both selected for inclusion in the Hilary Tham Collection.
The coordinator of the MFA program at Saint Rose, Ungar has won the Gival Press Poetry Award, a Hoffer Award and the Adirondack Center for Writing Poetry Award. She has been teaching poetry workshops at the Schenectady library for the past five years.
She is a native of Worcester, Massachusetts, but grew up in Minneapolis. She has a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Stanford, an M.A. from City College, and a Ph.D. in English from the Graduate Center of CUNY.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected].