Beyond the Gray Leaf by Dustin Renwick

If you’d asked, I’d have sworn I posted this back in August. I just knew I had. But I just found a half-completed draft in my draft folder and I can’t seem to find it on the blog. Ugh. I’m a horrible person.

Beyond the Gray LeafBeyond the Gray Leaf: The Life and Poems of J.P. Irvine

by Dustin Renwick

Kindle Edition, 154 pg.
Fleetwing Books, 2016

Read: August 8, 2016

This book is a look at the Nineteenth-Century poet J. P. Irvine — a little bit of a biography, a little sampler of his poems — and then Renwick explores some of what contributed to his disappearance from the cultural consciousness.

That’s a lot for 154 pages to pull off, but Renwick does it.

J. P. Irvine hailed from Illinois, and while he didn’t serve during the Civil War, some of his brothers did — in the same regiment featured in Huelskamp’s Friends of the Wigwam, so I felt like I already knew them. After the war, he bounced around from job to job working in newspapers, as a clerk in Washington D. C. and writing poetry throughout. He was widely published in papers throughout the country, had one collection published (to mostly positive reviews), and even read at a Presidential event.

Yet who’s heard of him? No one. Not even our author until he very accidentally ran into his book.

I’m not the biggest poetry fan in the world, but I know what I like — some of the poems printed here were pretty good, some did nothing for me. But I can see why Irving had a measure of success.

I thought this was a good short read — thought-provoking, interesting and made me think about Nineteenth Century poetry more than I had since my American Literature II class. I’d recommend this for someone needing a different type of read.

Disclaimer: This was provided to me in exchange for my honest take on the the book. My thanks for the book and apologies for the tardiness, Mr. Renwick


3 Stars


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