EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – In 2009, when longtime Eastchester Parks Department employee Michael Falotico was shelved for six months with a torn rotator cuff, things looked bleak for the avid outdoorsman.
Not wanting to rot away in front of the television, and unable to partake in athletic activity during his lengthy rehab, Falotico sought another pursuit to get him through the days until he could return to his town pick-up truck.
Thirteen hundred poems, 38 months and two books later, it looks like Falotico may have found his true calling. On Monday, Falotico submitted the manuscript of his third book, “Reflections” to his publisher, less than a year after he started compiling his latest pieces.
“I joined ‘ PoetrySoup ,’ with just four little poems. Then those became eight poems and now it’s closer to 1,300,” he said. “This book is deeper, I really took my time. I was naïve with the first book. I go back and read the stuff from the other books, and I like to think I’m polishing my craft as I’m going along.”
Falotico, who has worked in the Parks Department for 26 years, cites experiences from his time on the job and in town for much of the material that is found in his books. During his tenure working with the town, Falotico is constantly taking in nature, and his poems center on his day-to-day experiences, from the things he sees on the road to monumental events in his personal life.
“For the most part, we’re out on the road, or on tractors and I’m out in nature. I get to see the bad weather, and I get to be in nature when there are just fantastic colors,” he said. “I enjoy not being stuck at a desk; I get inspiration from wherever I am.”
The town employee-turned-author has expanded his reach and has started to host speaking engagements at various schools to encourage students to pursue poetry, either as a hobby or potential career. He routinely visits sixth and seventh graders at the Jonas Bronck Academy in the Bronx and was a guest of the Saints John and Paul School in Larchmont three weeks ago.
Falotico said that speaking to school children has become the most rewarding part of his second career. He added that it is something he is eager to expand, particularly in more local schools.
“I want to be able to inspire people of all ages. I didn’t start writing until I was 45 years old, it was just something they didn’t teach us at school,” he said. “This is something I didn’t think would come out of this. I went from writing a few poems to reaching this height. It doesn’t pay the bills, but I’m doing something I love.
According to Falotico, the time and effort he spends writing is not about crafting a second career – he can retire with a pension from the town in five years – but about doing something he is passionate about. The lectures he gives to students are on a volunteer basis, and he has no expectations for where his poetry may take him.
“This isn’t about the money for me. It’d be great to make a fortune doing it, but that’s just not why I do this,” he said. “Whether I sell a million copies of my book, or five, I’m just going to be happy I got published.”
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