Catherine Venable Moore — Writer & Producer

Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

Two Reviews

In Announcements, Appalachia, Black History, Fayette County, Nonfiction, Photography, Poetry, Print, West Virginia History, Women's History on June 5, 2018 at 9:22 am

Proud to share two reviews/essays of the recent WVU Press reprint of poet Muriel Rukeyser’s The Book of the Deadto which I wrote the introduction.

Los Angeles Review of Books, I Wake Up Choking,” by Maggie Messitt:

THE BOOK OF THE DEAD is a story about race. It’s about industry. It’s about being held accountable and the right to a safe workplace. But, to me — like so many Great Depression narratives — it’s about wealth and power and the ways in which that has trumped humanity and justice across time.

The Paris Review, Muriel Rukeyser, Mother of Everyone” by Sam Huber:

We often lament our porosity to the world’s data as a uniquely contemporary curse. Rukeyser imagines it instead as a capacity we might cultivate, no easier for having been attempted before by others like her, from whom we are lucky to learn, and by many more who will not be preserved or restored. So often in her poems, Rukeyser is both student and teacher.

Politico

In Appalachia, Nonfiction, Print on April 12, 2018 at 3:25 pm

My agent shouted out my forthcoming books in Politico Magazine the other day, in a story on how the Trump victory impacted publishing:

The turn of political administrations has always brought changes to the literary landscape. The dystopian narratives of the late 1980s like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta were seen as a response to the fundamentalist politics of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. […] But Trump, a president so unlike any of his predecessors, has jolted society in a more fundamental way. Despite branding himself as a New York City billionaire, he bypassed barriers of class and geography, and captured the presidency by bringing the grievances of small-town America to the fore. Suddenly, the voices of Pittsburgh steel factories have begun to echo in book-lined Manhattan offices.

Read more…

#Ojeda4Congress on NPR

In Appalachia, Audio, Mine Wars, Nonfiction, West Virginia History on March 30, 2018 at 10:35 am

NPR News, which is already reporting on the 2018 Election in West Virginia, hired me to go down to Pineville to record a meet-and-greet with U.S. House candidate Richard Ojeda, sponsored by the United Mine Workers of America. It was lots of fun talking to Wyoming County voters, and a great research opportunity for a project of my own–the book I’m writing, which compares the politics of the West Virginia Mine Wars era with politics in the Mountain State today.

Read the full story…

Taylor Books Reading March 1

In Announcements, Appalachia, Black History, Fayette County, Nonfiction, Photography, Poetry, Print, West Virginia History, Women's History on February 21, 2018 at 10:41 am

Wrapping up a series of readings and events to promote the re-issue of Muriel Rukeyser’s poem collection, The Book of the Dead, by West Virginia University Press. One more chance to catch a reading here in the region, and this one should be pretty special. I’ll be joined by several descendants of Hawks Nest Tunnel silicosis victims, who will read from Rukeyser’s work. I’ll also read a bit of my nonfiction essay that introduces the new edition of the book. March 1, 5:30-7:00 PM. Visit the event page for details.

Random House

In Announcements, Appalachia, coal, Economic Transition, Mine Wars, Nonfiction, Print, West Virginia History, Women's History on October 3, 2017 at 3:21 pm

In September 2017, I sold two nonfiction books to my dream editor, Kate Medina, at Random House. One is a book about the history and legacy of the Battle of Blair Mountain; the other is an essay collection. Here’s the announcement from Publishers Marketplace:

University of Montana MFA graduate, Best American Essays 2017 writer and producer of public radio documentaries Catherine Venable Moore’s two works of narrative non-fiction set in Appalachia, exploring events in the past of America and of that region, from the violent West Virginia Mine Wars and the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921, up to the politics of today, to Kate Medina at Random House, in a pre-empt, by Meredith Kaffel Simonoff at DeFiore and Company (World English). UK rights: decronin@penguinrandomhouse.com . Translation: linda@defliterary.com.

WVU Press Re-publishes “The Book of the Dead”

In Appalachia, Black History, Fayette County, Nonfiction, Photography, Poetry, Print, West Virginia History on September 24, 2017 at 3:42 pm

“Written in response to the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel disaster of 1931 in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, The Book of the Dead is an important part of West Virginia’s cultural heritage and a powerful account of one of the worst industrial catastrophes in American history. The poems collected here investigate the roots of a tragedy that killed hundreds of workers, most of them African American. They are a rare engagement with the overlap between race and environment in Appalachia.

Published for the first time alongside photographs by Nancy Naumburg, who accompanied Rukeyser to Gauley Bridge in 1936, this edition of The Book of the Dead includes an introduction by Catherine Venable Moore, whose writing on the topic has been anthologized in Best American Essays. Read more at West Virginia University Press…

Turning Coal Mines Into Farms

In Appalachia, coal, Economic Transition, Nonfiction, Print on September 24, 2017 at 3:31 pm

On a surface-mine-turned-farm in Mingo County, West Virginia, former coal miner Wilburn Jude plunks down three objects on the bed of his work truck: a piece of coal, a sponge, and a peach. He’s been tasked with bringing in items that represent his life’s past, present, and future.

“This is my heritage right here,” he says, picking up the coal. Since the time of his Irish émigré great-grandfathers, all the males in his family have been miners.

“Right now I’m a sponge,” he says, pointing to the next object, “learning up here on this job, in school, everywhere, and doing the best I can to change everything around me.”

Then he holds up the peach. “And then my future. I’m going to be a piece of fruit. I’m going to be able to put out good things to help other people.” Read more in Fall 2017 issue of Yes!…

My Latest in CJR

In Appalachia, Nonfiction, Print, Uncategorized on August 12, 2017 at 7:06 pm

AFTER THE 2016 ELECTION, the calls and emails rolled into West Virginia, as the press scrambled to make sense of a place that hadn’t occupied this much space on the national political stage since John F. Kennedy’s 1960 primary.

“We’re looking for a family in a trailer park.”

“We’re looking for a holler. How do we get there?”

“I need a Trump-supporting son of a coal miner who doesn’t think coal is coming back. Do you know one?”

Even before Donald Trump’s election, Appalachia was treated as a kind of Rosetta stone for deciphering rural white poverty in America. Read More…

Best American Essays

In Announcements, Appalachia, Black History, Fayette County, Nonfiction, Print, West Virginia History, Women's History on April 18, 2017 at 9:53 am

The Book of the Dead“—my essay on the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel Disaster and the poet Muriel Rukeyser from the Fall 2016 issue of Oxford American—will be included in the The Best American Essays 2017. One of my favorite writers, Leslie Jamison, edited this year’s collection. From the publisher’s listing:

The best-selling essayist Leslie Jamison picks the best essays from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites, bringing her incredible ability to “stitch together the intellectual and the emotional with the finesse of a crackerjack surgeon” (NPR) to the task.

Crackerjack! Preorder your copy

CVM in CJR on WVPB

In Appalachia, coal, Nonfiction on April 1, 2017 at 9:44 am

While public radio stations across the country fret over the threat of federal-level funding cuts, West Virginia Public Broadcasting has its mind on other matters. A state-level proposal to zero out half of its $10 million budget had the network on the defensive this month. In West Virginia, which national media often portray as Trump Country Ground Zero due to its high proportion of Trump voters, you might expect that the rift is ideological. But the $4.6 million cut was proposed by Democratic governor Jim Justice—a billionaire coal operator who coincidentally owes $4.4 million in back taxes to the state—and some Republicans in the legislature have been quick to come to the network’s defense. Read more…