Photo by Braiden Maddox

Catherine Venable Moore is a nonfiction writer and public historian from West Virginia. She holds a BA in comparative literature from Harvard University and an MFA in poetry from the University of Montana.

She is currently at work on a book about the Battle of Blair Mountain and the West Virginia Mine Wars, to be published by Random House. Her work-in-progress won a 2021 Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant and a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholars Grant.

Her writing has been published in Best American Essays and earned recognition from MacDowell, Millay Colony, Mass MoCA, and the Waymakers Collective.

Catherine lives in Davis, West Virginia, with her loyal animal companions, Pickle and Dreama.

14 thoughts on “About

  1. paul f. roth says:

    On my recent (4th or 5th) visit to Hawk’s Nest State Park and Overlook, I acquired a copy of “The Book of The Dead” by Rukeyser/intro by Ms Moore.
    Until reading the book, I was unaware of the Hawk’s Nest tragedy, as my main purpose for visiting the site was to photograph the C&O Railroad traversing the majestic scenery of the New River Gorge.
    Although Rukeyser’s poetry is astonishing, I find that Ms. Moore’s introductory text “carries” the volume, and urges me to re-visit the gorge one more, this time to explore the territory of the tragedy.
    I became familiar with the Gorge and environs when I was on the faculty of Virginia Tech, and now retired I live in Pittsburgh, PA – a 5-hr drive from US Rte 60.
    I do have one critical comment about the book. It should be noted that Rukeyser’s map is upside down! Geographically, it should be rotated 90-degrees, so that – for instance – the New River is depicted as approaching from the South!

    Best regards,

    Paul Roth

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your note, and for the correction! I’m really glad the book/roadmap was helpful to you. “These are roads to take when you think of your country…”

  2. Michael Sampson says:

    Hi Catherine,

    Hope all is well.
    In your Oxford American published essay “The book of the Dead” there is a website linked at the very end to a list of the names and records of some of those who died. This website in now inactive and I am wondering if you know how or who can help?


  3. Thomas Cooper says:

    Just wanted to say that your introduction in the Book of Dead was incredible. (My dog is named Vanetta and my cat Gamoca fyi.)I always looked at those places as my personal charge. To keep them alive because they deserve to not be forgotten. I talked about them every year in my history class and when I was younger I spent every college break walking those tracks and looking for more clues. I have little artifacts like scrip from vanettas first history as a mining town in the 1920 before it housed migrant black workers. I even called the Fayette county board of Ed because they still own the land where the school house was. But I never had the resources or time to dig deep enough. I experienced what I always wanted to do vicariously through your work, while learning this community is much bigger than just myself. Your comments on race are so on the mark and your caretaking of this history is greatly appreciated.

  4. Debra Kaufman says:

    Dear Ms. Venable Moore,
    I just received my copy of The Book of the Dead and read your introduction. I couldn’t put it down. The stories are so terrible and sad, and your documenting of them beautifully told. I so appreciate your sharing these stories with readers of Muriel Rukeyser, WV families, and others. Truly these are haunting. Thank you for helping to reclaim this history from the liars and abettors so that we can learn from the horrors and move forward with knowledge and empathy.

  5. Rex Holland says:

    My Mom’s family were from Packsville, W Va in Raleigh Co. They were the George McClellen and Mary Jane (Farley) Jarrell’s. They had about 10 children, including my grandmother Donna Kathleen.

    I loved going to Charleston and Grannie Jarrell’s as a boy, and a recent reading of ‘Addie’ by Mary Lee Settle took me there again. I will try to follow you at the public library and on-line.
    By the way, my grand-daughter is coincidentally nicknamed Addie. Best Regards, Rex Holland, Albuquerque

  6. Stephanie says:

    This is a great website! Keep up the good work! Also there’s a low power radio station on Beauty Mountain in Edmond WV. Is that the one you dream about sometimes?

  7. Deanna White-Hebert says:

    Dear Catherine, I am so excited and grateful for the work you are doing! We just had a memorial service for my mother, Mabel Jarrell,at Virginia’s Chapel on May 16, 2013. Her whole family is from Cedar Grove. She died at 90 1/2, her older sister Mary Ellen Taylor knew Mary Settle and sent us a copy of “Addie” a few years back before she died. We just loved the book, it is my mother’s story and history. We visited the Thompkins Mansion while in WV and found out about you. I live in Pembroke, MA and feel much as you do about WV. I thank you for all you are doing and hope to follow your work closely.
    P.S. My cousin Rev. David White was the pastor of the Oak Hill Baptist Church for about 25 years. He just retired in 2007.

    • admin says:

      Deanna, I really appreciate your note! Great to hear from a kindred WV spirit. I’m so glad you found my website, and the project. I bet your mother had a Cedar Grove story or two. If it’s ok, I’ll add you to the email update list so you can keep up with progress…

      • Patty J. Coopet says:

        Please add me to your email. Also there is a Cedar Grove Community Trailblazers Facebook page where a lot of CG history & pictures are shared.

  8. admin says:

    Thanks, Henry! I’ll look forward to your call. I graduated high school in 2000.

  9. Henry Battle says:

    I couldn’t help but say something after reading your nicely written and interesting — OK, intriguing — “About” section and not having any responses! I just got your e-mail message about a Mary Lee Settle project and want to talk to you about it. I’ll phone.
    Henry Battle 5:00 pm 8/24/2012
    PS For what class year did you interview for Brown? That will help my recollection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *