PHOENIXVILLE - Poet Anthony Gulotta added two more awards to an already crowded mantel from competition at the 45th Annual Convention of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Inc., recently held in Columbus, Ohio.
For his poem, "The Fig Tree," Gulotta took first place honors from among 236 entries to win the Massachusetts State Poetry Society Award. The poet was also runner-up in the Our American Indian Heritage Award for the poem titled "Crazy Horse, Chief of the Sioux." Entrants for that award numbered 134.
"No way did I expect it," said Gulotta. "When I went up to read I was crying.
"I was hoarse and I lose my voice if I keep talking a lot. The audience could see me struggling to get the words out."
Gulotta enjoys the applause following a reading but especially likes talking with listeners following a reading.
"I'm an extrovert," said the poet. "I love it when they come up to you afterwards and it reminds them of their own experiences. I feel like I've touched their hearts if only for a moment.
"I enjoy making a person smile or bringing some solace. Everyone has struggles and sad experiences. Poetry lets the reader know that they're not alone."
Gulotta has published 14 volumes of poetry and on Thursdays his work is featured in The Phoenix.
As a 15 year-old student at Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn, NY, Gulotta penned his first poem, about trees. Gulotta's teacher was not impressed by his first stab at poetry after Gulotta read to the class.
"Gulotta, your sentiments are beautiful but your poetry needs a lot to be desired," said the teacher.
Fellow student Cecilla Berkowitz turned to the student poet and changed his life forever.
"Anthony, don't listen to her," said Berkowitz "I love your poetry."
Gulotta discovered something that explained his early motives.
"Through poetry I can become popular with women," said Gulotta. "Other guys are much taller and better looking, but can't write poetry."
The fan of Robert Browning and Emily Dickinson is a Villanova University graduate and is a retired Vice President of sales for Acme-Hardesty Company of Blue Bell.
The poet said that he writes nostalgically, humorously and seriously.
"The ending is the key," said Gulotta. "It has to teach you a lesson or leave you with a feeling of nostalgia, remorse or happiness.
"People feel they have a bond with you because they have have the same experiences."
Next year's conference, the 46th, will be held in Harrisburg. Gulotta is looking forward to helping with registration and lining up big-name speakers. Seminars might include, "How to Write and Present Verbally to a Room," "Where to Get Ideas," and "How to Avoid Writer's Block."