The woman in the painting…The poems begin in a more literal, detached way, though as the book progresses my voice and what I imagine of hers become more deeply entwined. I began writing the poems in this chapbook shortly after I purchased a portrait at a charity auction and propped it on my writing desk. The woman in the painting became a sort of muse, and I began writing to her, about her, imagining her perspective. I found the artist online and, thankfully, she was delighted to hear what I had done, rather than being creeped-out. Now we have ‘Marilyn: Self-Portrait, Oil on Canvas’ by Kerry Trautman from Gutter Snob Books.
In this short book of poems, Kerry Trautman brilliantly manages to create a world, tell a story and navigate the liminal space between reality and fantasy. With her keen eye for detail, Trautman offers a meditation on womanhood gender born of wisdom and self-knowledge that comes from a lifetime of paying close attention to the everyday stuff of life. As I’ve come to expect: Trautman surprises, Marilyn surprises in ways that will captivate the casual, as well as the experienced reader of poetry. We all need Marilyn here for a while. – Danny Shot, author of WORKS, Associate Poetry Editor of A Gathering of the Tribes.
In this series of ekphrastic poems, Kerry Trautman imagines a life for an artist that she has never met. “Humor us while we puzzle each others’ faces,” she writes. The magic in this chapbook lies in the way the poet and the portrait become one, as they converse about the ordinary things that make us all extraordinary—green eyes, fantasies, “dishwater blonde” hair that will “never be platinum.” These poems begin with observation, but end with the realization that, like the artist, “you choose yourself forever” even as the portrait remains timeless and “seems younger every day.” This is a skillful collection from a fine poet.– Cathryn Essinger, author of The Apricot and the Moon, Dos Madres Press.
Ohio born and raised, Kerry Trautman is a poetry editor for Red Fez and one of the founders of ToledoPoet.com and the “Toledo Poetry Museum” page on Facebook which promote Northwest Ohio poetry. Since 2016, she has served annually as judge or workshop leader for the NW region of Ohio’s Poetry Out Loud competition. In 2020, her one-act play “Mass” was selected for production as a staged reading through The Toledo Repertoire Theater’s “Toledo Voices” competition. Kerry’s poetry and fiction have appeared in various journals, including Midwestern Gothic, Hawaii Pacific Review, Alimentum, Paper & Ink, Naugatuck River Review, Thimble, Mock Turtle Zine, The Fourth River, and Third Wednesday; as well as in anthologies such as, Mourning Sickness (Omniarts 2008), Delirious: A Poetic Celebration of Prince (NightBallet Press 2016), Resurrection of a Sunflower (Pski’s Porch Press 2017), and Nine Lives Later: a Dead Cat Anthology (Dee Dee Chapman, ed. 2017). Her poetry books are Things That Come in Boxes (King Craft Press 2012), To Have Hoped (Finishing Line Press 2015), One or Two; Not Quite Together; Poem Conversations (co-authored with Hod Doering. The Poetry Barn Press 2016), Artifacts (NightBallet Press 2017), and To be Nonchalantly Alive (Kelsay Books 2020).
Marilyn/Kerry Trautman/Gutter Snob Review by Michael D. Grover
To me this chapbook picks up and runs with one of the most important and overlooked elements of Poetry, imagination. Poetry is so often hard, real, and in our faces that it is easy to forget that. And I must admit I am guilty of that myself sometimes. Anyway, this is refreshing.
A moment about the artist. I have been watching Kerry for a number of years in the Toledo Poetry scene. I first met her at the old haunted reading that I used to co-host at the Collingwood Arts Center. I have to be blunt here as many know that I am. I have watched her evolve from someone that followed the unwritten rules of academia, to someone who could pull this manuscript off. I have to say that is a beautiful evolution.
As for the Poetry, the meat, the content. All that should really matter here. This Poetry is deep and haunting as that old reading at the Arts Center was. This is Poetry meant to be read more than once. For each time you read it, you might find something new.
The beginning or introduction allows you to get to know Marilyn. Not just as a painting, but the person Kerry imagines her to be. It is also a reminder that what is painted is permanent.
As the Poems go on you can feel Marilyn judging her. You can feel Marilyn motivating her like a drill Sargent. She even leaves the shade up so Marilyn can see outside.
So the final assessment here is that Marilyn is worth getting to know. It’s a quick read, and a good pick up for any book collection.