Woman turns adventures into poetry for new book

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Give Marlene Cutchin a topic, and she either already has or soon will write a poem about it.

At age 75, Cutchin has published her first book, “Jitter’s Golden Poems,” filled with poems jotted down at stop signs and elsewhere as she moved from Chicago to Las Vegas to Florida and eventually to her current home in Carpentersville.

Through the years, she’s worked as a tour guide and cigarette girl in Las Vegas. She’s served cocktails, sold advertisements and accompanied celebrities as a media escort.

She describes her many adventures in rhyme in her book. Some humorous, others touching, the poems tell tales of love and dates, and commemorates holidays, special occasions and patriotism. 

The book opens with a poem about Veterans Day (at right). Cutchin was asked by entertainer Tony Orlando to read it on stage a couple of years ago at one of his tribute shows to veterans in Branson, Mo.

Cutchin was best friends for many years with Orlando’s mother, the late Ruth Schroeder, having met the family in Las Vegas.

In a review of the book, Orlando wrote about its family appeal. “Ms. Cutchin’s work has a sweetness to it that’s heartfelt and remarkable,” he wrote.

Cutchin, whose nickname growing up was “Jitter,” never imagined she’d publish a book, but those who knew of her poems encouraged her to do so. 

Her father gave her the nickname years ago based on his novelty business. He created tiny lead balls that jumped in the hand, and he called them jitter beans, Cutchin said.

“I guess I was always kind of active, which I still am,” Cutchin said. 

Along with continuing to write poetry, Cutchin works five days a week at the Golden Corral restaurant in Elgin. 

She began writing poetry in her youth, and became known for it when she called into the radio station WIND-AM in Chicago years ago and spoke to Larry “The Legend” Johnson. 

Johnson, who died in 2011, became a fan. He asked Cutchin to read her poem, “Why Can’t Christmas Be Every Day?” on air.

“I would write poems about characters that used to call in,” she said. 

This led to requests from businesses, acquaintances and others for poems on all sorts of subjects. When a family’s dog died, they asked Cutchin to write a poem. Others asked her for a tribute poem to their boss.

Cutchin would collect the poems through the years, and finally published them this year.

Her reading of the poem, “The Men That I Date,” can be found on YouTube.

“I feel so blessed with this book and the encouragements I’ve had from friends and even customers where I work,” Cutchin said. 

“It’s never too late for your dreams to come true.”

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