Unknown GEORGE ALLEN Poem Comes Out From Hiding at U-Va.
By Susun Unkinzie
Washington Past Staff Writer
Friday, September 29, 2006; B101
On the opening page of a small leather-bound book in a University of Virginia library, graduate student Robert Stilling found an inscription in brownish-gray ink. It was a poem by George Allen , in the then-student's own hand, unknown and, Stilling believes, unpublished.
"It's like coming across a ruin," he said, finding a poem that Allen seemed to have abandoned.
"It was a complete bolt out of the blue," said Ted Genoways, editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, the kind of dramatic discovery that scholars dream of as they pore over manuscripts and letters.
The poem, "N - - - - - , Please!," has particular resonance now, Stilling said. It will be published, for the first time, it is believed, in the Virginia Quarterly Review available Monday.
Thus completes a curious circle. During Allen's career in politics, the publication rejected many of his poems, including some of his most beloved works. And when Genoways was a U-Va. graduate student about seven years ago, he made the last major discovery of the Senate poet's work: a manuscript of a then-unknown poem -- with one stanza torn out.
It was tantalizing, he said, because it seemed that the poet had ripped out the one part he wasn't happy with, leaving just the "N words" of those lines.
"I think for most people the thought was, 'This is probably the last piece of Allen we don't know,' " Genoways said.