Rebecca Cuthbert is Alien Buddha’s Featured Artist For May 2023

ABP- Thank you for taking this interview, Rebecca. Earlier this year, ABP had the privilege of publishing your chapbook “In Memory of Exoskeletons,” which is now at the time of drafting this interview, our bestselling title of the year, our 6th bestseller in the history of the press. What can you tell us about the collection? What was the writing process like?

RC- The poems in this collection were written over the past seven or eight years, and they are united thematically by a few common threads: loss and grief; the duality women face; the pain and joy in the concept of home. And though many of the poems are dark, there is love there, too, and humor. One of my favorite things has been hearing from readers, which poems resonate for them, how they tie into their own lives. That’s what art should be—they aren’t just my poems. Once people read them, they’re theirs, too. Meaning forms where we meet in the middle.

Sometime during the pandemic lockdown, I saw a tweet from Mausoleum Press about a chapbook competition they were holding. I realized I could put together a little collection, and sent it off. And while it didn’t win, the editors told me I made the shortlist, so I knew I had something worthwhile. I sent it out to a handful of small presses, and when I got the offer from ABP, I was thrilled. I’ve always heard good things about the press, that it’s author friendly and supportive over social media, so it was an easy choice to say yes.

ABP- Can you share a selection from the book with us here?

RC- This one is called “Nothing would hush,” and the title is read as the first line. It grew out of an exercise I do with my students, and is inspired by a poem I love called “Root Cellar” by Theodore Roethke.At about the third revision pass-through, I realized (that to me) it’s a poem about the kitchen at my parents’ house—what it became after my mom died. It’s a place that should be happy and busy, but it’s suffering from neglect and abandonment.

Nothing would hush

in that farmhouse

kitchen: vile

whispers in the rafters,

tired sighs and

groans and more.

Gold-rimmed plates


like last week’s intentions,

spilled over

from the dishrack





(Add a long line to the week’s long chores.)

Flapped-open dishcloths shrieked,

peeked from half-

closed too-stuffed


called to damp-stained tea towels

left to grow

their black

mold spores.

A cacophony of crashes!

Shatterings savage as bright new


bent butter knives, rusted,

clanging to the floor—

seafood-forks, mugs, jelly jars,

soup bowls

stacked and clattering in

cupboards with no doors.

Nothing consented to muffle its scraping:

Even the tea kettle joined the uproar.   

ABP- You brought your book on a bit of a tour after the launch, attending live readings and signings. What was that like?

RC- Yes! I’ve been really fortunate. A friend of mine, Joanna Kaufmann, does freelance publicity, and agreed to help me out. She set up a book launch for March 4th at a great local bar, Downtown Brew, whose owners are very supportive of the arts. Dozens of friends and family members came out that day, including my sister who lives in Alabama, and it was so special to me to have them there. My husband Joel had a t-shirt made with my book on it and he sold books and poetry broadsides to folks who didn’t have them yet. I hung out at the bar and signed books, then we went out for tacos to celebrate.

Then on March 23rd, I was a guest reader on WANA Live!, a YouTube show hosted by the Writers Association of Northern Appalachia. The hosts Christina and Damian are kind and generous and fun to hang out with. That recording (about 13 minutes?) can be viewed here:

On April 8th, I was a guest on The podcast, which examines horror movies as social commentary. I got to talk with hosts James Sabata and Don Guillory about the 1973 movie Season of the Witch. Though not directly related to my book, they let me get in a plug. Thanks, James and Don! It was a lot of fun! The episode will air April 24th, and will be available on the website:

On April 15th, I had another local reading at the Barker Library in Fredonia, which was lovely—I saw new faces and a few of my wonderful friends and family members (including my husband and my dad!) came back for Round 2. Local libraries are so important to their communities—hosting book events is just one of many reasons to love them.

Coming up on April 29th, I’ll have a vendor table at the SUNY Fredonia inaugural Fred Lit Fest on the SUNY Fredonia campus, and I’ll be reading from the collection during the events portion of the evening.

Joanna and I will try to set up a couple more local events this summer, and there’s talk amongst me and a couple other ABP authors about doing a virtual reading to include far-flung friends. That’s still in the works, but I’ll be bugging them soon (Patrick and Rocky, I’m talking to you!).

ABP– What is the art/lit scene like in Dunkirk NY?

RC- Dunkirk and its neighbor, Fredonia, are small and friendly. I grew up nearby, so between friends and folks at the college, there is a lot of support for creative efforts.

ABP- Who is your favorite writer? What is your favorite book?

RC- I can never answer this question—I love so many. I love Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson, Barbara Michaels, Sarah Waters, Lisa Kroger, Mary Stewart, Jasper Fforde, Catriona Ward, Catherine Cavendish, Grady Hendrix, Jonathan Janz… It’s a list that will never stop growing. I could never pick a favorite author or a favorite book! I love Gothic novels, I love mysteries. I love any kind of ghost story.

ABP- Do you have anything else planned for the rest of 2023? Are you working on anything new?

RC- I’m juggling a lot of plates right now, and I don’t know yet which ones will crash and which ones I’ll hold onto. I have a collection of 13 “literary speculative” stories I’d love to find a home for, as well as a completed novella manuscript in which I mashed together ALL of the good genres: It’s a spicy gothic horror mystery thriller. I’m writing my first novel, which blends a tragic coming-of-age narrative with magical realism and horror. It will likely be classified as New Adult, but the subject matter is heavy and it has a lot of crossover appeal. (Shoutout to alpha reader Chris O’Halloran, who has helped me shape it all the way.) That is the first book of a planned trilogy.

Also in the works is a follow-up to IN MEMORY OF EXOSKELETONS, but this one will be a hybrid collection and include poetry, micro fiction, and flash fiction. It will be called SELF-MADE MONSTERS, and consist mostly of feminist horror and eco horror, with another beautiful cover from Chad Lutzke. I hope to have that ready for consideration by early 2024.

ABP- Thank you again for taking this interview, Rebecca. If there is anything else that you would like to share, announce, promote, or anything please do.

RC- Thanks so much! I’m excited about a few forthcoming publications, including a set of three micros, “Grudge,” “Gift,” and “Reckoning” in ABP’s Zine #50; the story “The Quilting Circle of Bygone Gardens” in the SOUL SCREAM Antholozine (Seamus & Nunzio Productions); the sonnet “No Rest Nor Relief For You With Me Dead” in Shakespeare Unleashed (Monstrous Books and Crystal Lake Publishing); the story “In Crowd” in Rebellion LIT’s THE START anthology; and a cryptid story that will be read on The Creepy Podcast, “The Cliffs at Battery Pointe.”

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