Catherine V. Moore — Writer & Producer

Archive for the ‘Print’ Category

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

Two Writing Fellowships

In Announcements, Print on February 23, 2017 at 11:17 am

A writer’s cottage at the MacDowell Colony

This year I’ll be spending some of the spring and fall months in New England at two writing residencies. I’m happy to announce that I’m the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship in Longform Journalism at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH, and a Mountain State Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT.

I’ll be finishing up my current book project for Ohio University Press / Swallow Press, a collection essays titled Transmontane, and getting started on a proposal for my next book. I’m very grateful to these two institutions for the encouragement and support!

Read “The Book of the Dead”

In Appalachia, Black History, Fayette County, Multimedia, Photography, Print, West Virginia History, Women's History on December 15, 2016 at 5:44 pm
Screen Shot 2016-12-15 at 4.43.25 PM

Above the Hawk’s Nest Dam on the New River. Photo by Lisa Elmaleh.

My longform nonfiction piece about the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel Disaster, “The Book of the Dead: In Fayette County, WV, Expanding the Document of Disaster,” is now available online at The Oxford American‘s website. It was originally published in the magazine’s fall issue and recently won a Commendation from the Stack Awards.

My online archive of Hawk’s Nest Tunnel workers, hawksnestnames.org, is a companion project that houses primary source documents and victims’ names.

Finally, check out this “Photographer’s Day Book” feature from The Oxford American, in which Lisa Elmaleh tracks her pursuit of Hawk’s Nest images for the magazine. I’m so thankful to Lisa for making these photos.

“Book of the Dead” Commended by Stack Awards

In Appalachia, Black History, Fayette County, Print, West Virginia History, Women's History on October 23, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Screen Shot 2016-10-23 at 12.15.21 PM

The Stack Awards recognize the best work in independent magazines from all over the world. I recently learned that I was short-listed for a Stack Award in Nonfiction for my longform essay, “The Book of the Dead,” published in the Fall 2016 issue of Oxford American. 

The piece explores the history of the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel Disaster and how it was documented in poetry by the writer Muriel Rukeyser. It also offers new revelations about the workers who lost their lives in the process of building the tunnel, three quarters of whom were black migratory laborers.

West Virginia-based photographer Lisa Elmaleh was commissioned to provide art for the story. Though the piece is not yet available online, a new website I built archives some of this history: The Book of the Dead: An Archive of Hawk’s Nest Tunnel Workers. 

UPDATE: “The Book of the Dead” was one of two “Commended” finalists. Congrats to The Outpost, which took home the win! Listen to Stack founder Steven Watson talk about the winning and commended pieces in the video below…

Kentucky Hemp in “Yes!” Magazine

In Announcements, Appalachia, Economic Transition, Print on August 30, 2016 at 10:51 am

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 10.48.09 AM

At the birth of any industry, uncertainty abounds. So does opportunity, say Kentuckians like Joe Schroeder of Freedom Seed and Feed, who is among those growing industrial hemp and advocating for others in Appalachia to do the same.

“It’s really speculative,” says Schroeder. “But people are making a lot of money, and that money is real.”

But don’t take that talk of money to mean Schroeder is greedy. At a time when the region’s collapsing coal and tobacco industries have left gaping holes in central Appalachia’s economy, at least some of Kentucky’s hemp experimenters want to maximize the benefit to as many local people as possible.

Read more of my story on industrial hemp at Yes! Magazine…

VICE’s Appalachia Series

In Appalachia, Multimedia, Photography, Print on May 2, 2016 at 10:04 pm
watching-lives-get-saved-and-teeth-pulled-at-a-remote-medical-clinic-in-appalachia-ang-body-image-1461351278-size_1000

Dental care is by far the busiest section of the Remote Area Medical clinic. Photo by Stacy Kranitz.

Last year I teamed up with photographer Stacy Kranitz and several other writers from the region to do a series on Appalachia for VICE focusing on the effects of the declining coal industry, the struggle against strip mining, the drug epidemic, the history and meaning of terms like redneck and hillbilly, and systemic problems with health care.  The pieces just went live, including  my piece on Remote Area Medical’s yearly mountaintop mash unit in southwest Virginia.

bone-saws-and-sno-cones-the-remote-area-medical-clinic-426-body-image-1460575439-size_1000

It is impossible to avoid the irony of the truck advertising Mountain Dew parked next to the clinic’s dental tent. Photo by Stacy Kranitz.

“O Beulah Land” in Oxford American

In Appalachia, Audio, Black History, Cedar Grove, coal, Mary Lee Settle, Multimedia, Print, West Virginia History, Women's History on October 10, 2014 at 11:23 am

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 11.26.56 AM
O Beulah Land,” my wandering longform essay about writer Mary Lee Settle, the women of Cedar Grove, and Appalachian transition, was published in the summer issue of Oxford American: The Southern Magazine of Good Writing. Here’s their introduction to the piece:

There are many gorgeous passages in “O Beulah Land” by Catherine Venable Moore, an homage to Central West Virginia published in our summer issue.

Struggling to reconcile a landscape of paradisiacal beauty with its history of unheeded extraction since settlers arrived, Catherine—with the works of Mary Lee Settle as her guide—goes to Cedar Grove, that writer’s small hometown on the Kanawha River. She writes:

“Like Mary Lee, I went to the town digging for some present truth in the past, and knocked on the doors of ten women, up to a century old, who agreed to talk about their lives in Cedar Grove. All of them pay their hearts to the town in some way or another, filling their lives with service to a place where community ties are being severed by a fading industry that once drew its people close in solidarity. These women are and were the societal glue of Cedar Grove, the storytellers, the visionaries, the caretakers, and the advocates for the powerless. I asked them about home. I needed to know how we got here, and how we get out of wherever “here” is, without having to leave.”

The essay is a remarkable, holistic dive into the Transmontane of West Virginia, the land beyond the mountains—one of the first American frontiers and still a misunderstood region. “Recorded history is wrong because the voiceless have no voice in it,” said Settle, explaining the motivations behind her sweeping historical fictions. In “O Beulah Land,” Catherine takes up Settle’s mantle—the writer died in 2005 at eighty-three—reporting untold histories and interviewing women whose stories are essential to the identity of their homeplace yet seldom shared with a wide public. It’s an elegy for a lost time when “Everyone was a part of everything.”

They also published a companion web-only piece–an audio teaser to my forthcoming hour-long radio documentary and some photographs of Cedar Grove by my pal, the photographer Roger May.

 

Fayette County Schools

In Appalachia, Current Projects, Education, Fayette County, Print on July 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Walker School, Fayette County

I’m surrounded by several box feet of newspaper clippings chronicling the past 30 years of the Fayette County School system, leafing through the yellowing history of a troubled agency, playing catch up and attempting to make some kind of sense of its struggles. In 2010, the state took over Fayette’s schools, citing curriculum and facilities problems, but the system has been in crisis for much longer. Here’s an overview of a new series I’ll be working on this summer and fall for the Beckley Register-Herald:

A recent study ranked West Virginia’s schools at 47th in the nation. Zillow.com ranks Fayette County at 53rd of 55 county systems in West Virginia, based on student proficiency and attendance/graduation rates. This bottom-of-the-barrel status calls for an in-depth look at what went wrong, and what’s needed to see positive change moving forward. The series assumes that improvement is needed. It will build a narrative charting the system’s past, present, and future. It will also explore the alternatives parents are choosing over the public system, and some of the major issues currently in play, including finances, school closures, and economic development. It will cultivate parents, teachers, administrators, board members, state department of education officials, experts, and the students themselves as sources. The series will deploy data analysis, as well as strong story-telling and personal interviews, to give readers all the tools they need for an informed and actionable opinion.

Talking with my education sources sometimes feels like entering a strange, upside-down world with a language and culture all its own. Wish me luck, and hope to see you on the other side…