In the last few weeks of 2010, readers had the opportunity to flex their creative muscles and submit a poem for a chance to win free admission to the 3rd annual Personalized Medicine World Conference taking place in Silicon Valley January 18-19, 2011. We received many wonderful entries spanning a wide variety of poetic styles, making the job of our nine judges a challenge, but five poems made the final cut, rewarding their authors with free passes to the conference.
Judges ranked their top five favorite entries; all first-ranked choices received five points, second-ranked choices received four points, on down to the fifth-ranked choices which received one point each. The five entries with the highest point totals were deemed the winners.
Not surprisingly, poetry is very much a matter of personal taste, as not a single poem made it onto every judge’s short list, and the two poems that received far and away the highest overall scores only made it onto the short list of five judges (but those judges clearly loved them). Many poems were favorites of individual judges, but unfortunately received too few overall points to break into the top five.
We’d like to congratulate all of the winners and extend our appreciation to everyone who participated — who knew genetics could be so poetic?
Here are the five winning entries, in no particular order:
A SNPs Poem To His Love
by Johan Sosa
My love, you’re just my phenotype
I don’t care dear about your genotype
My DNA’s under pressure for romance
Darling I have no Family Inheritance
But honey my ancestry’s wealth is health
So let’s pair up our chromosomes and bind
by Oana Carja
I used to think in terms of integrals,
Banach spaces and martingales
Then I met genetics
With its mysteries and poetics
Now, I think in terms of ancestry
Chromosomes and 23andMe
Haplogroups and GWAS studies,
Are now my late-night buddies (!! :) )
Epigenetics fascinates me
And will (hopefully) get me a PhD.
The Haplogroup Not Taken
by Robin Goldstein (with deepest apologies to Robert Frost)
Two SNPs diverged in a Chromosome
and wonder I the meaning thus
A lifelong need for brush and comb
or sullen gaze at polished dome;
The benefit, a lack of morning fuss.
And so I spit into a tube
and learned of things like Phenotype
and Gregor’s bees, though I a rube
more like to solve a Rubik’s cube
Or chat with Stanford doctors using Skype.
Now “The waiting is the hardest part”
Tom Petty sang (left-handedly)
And “Cogito Ergo Sum”, said Decartes
Though philosophy cannot impart
That smell of asparagus to my pee.
I shall be blogging this with a sigh
To cousins 2 and 4, first, fifth and 3
Two SNPs diverged in my genes and I
Intent to learn the reasons why
Now wait results from 23andMe
by Lev Shaket
Listen, I’m a chromosome poet,
wielding words with the finesse of GWAS
studying the SNPs in my genome with the speed of an Ion Torrent.
Big up to Mendel, me and him homies since his Moravian moments.
Feeling like a disciple of science, utilizing the finest appliance
to trace my DNA to the bones of Octavian Romans.
C, we don’t need A pen, just polymerase and four bases, to rewrite a story for patients in a base four language.
And with algorithmic precision and a trained statistician, we can master sequencing pieces like a painting by Titian.
Armed with drugs corresponding to our own variations, we can enhance our own health and bring disease to the basics.
And let’s not forget that in a matter of days, we can pinpoint the source of an outbreak for Haitians.
Yet one question remains for the strictly poetic:
Is talent developed or is it genetic?
Is it what one inherits, or does one earn it through merit?
Whatever the answer, one thing is apparent–
what we define as aesthetic envelops the basis
of this un-replicated chromosome language.
A Farsical Tragic Genetic Love Poem
by Zach Charlop-Powers
My dear Rosalie, alas, its not to be
not fifth but only first cousins are we
unrequited my love, I’ll pine at the moon
if only I had not sent my spit to Spittoon
if only we had not seen 23andMe
if only, my love, we’d forsake our ancestry
not worried about our shared haplotypes,
or our SNP inheritance, only love at first site
who cares for genomics when it destroys our love
who says our children would be genetic bums!??@!
I suppose my dear Rosie you’ve found someone new
who shares not my proclivity for SNP-A or Type 2
I suppose my dear Rosie you’re no longer alone
you’ve found someone with no sneeze reflex nor gallstones
or risk factor to congenital blinking and blindness
who forgets anniverseries; the very picture of kindness
perhaps he is handsome and tall and not even related
perhaps you are walking with him now, on the beach, elated
alas my dear Rosie it was not to be
you saw the sad truth and the sad truth was me.