Dustin Renwick fills his life with writing and competing in any sports events he can find. Usually this choice involves running, but options like pickleball and the occasional limbo contest have made the list. His writing has appeared in publications such as The Washington Post and USA Triathlon, and National Geographic once selected his photo as an editor’s pick.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Beyond the Gray Leaf" traces the life and writing of a forgotten Civil War poet from Illinois. He grew up in a small town near my hometown, and I wanted to know more. Nobody had heard of him. So I started researching. And researching. And researching. I didn't set out with a book as the goal, but you have to let the material dictate the form. Sometimes the best way to present information is visually or in a list. In this case, the book blends his biography with his poems that I uncovered.
Did you consider a print version necessary?
Absolutely. You can accomplish different things with print formats. There's a beauty in something tangible with all the little adornments you find. Even something simple, like the copyright page. "Beyond the Gray Leaf" is available in digital formats and paperback. I also recorded the audiobook version because why wouldn't you reach out to an audience who loves to read but prefers auditory experiences?
An average government clerk presented a poem to President Ulysses S. Grant and a crowd of 10,000 people. Then J.P. Irvine and his words faded into history. Dustin Renwick, author of Irvine's biography, sifted through more than 20,000 pages of microfilm to uncover this forgotten Civil War poet’s work that illuminates a changing country.
Walt Whitman, John Burroughs, and J.P. Irvine all worked as clerks in Washington, D.C., after the Civil War. But Irvine, a small-town poet from Illinois, was the one selected to address President Grant and 10,000 spectators. Those words were lost, along with Irvine's legacy. Until now.