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This report is taken from PN Review 132, Volume 26 Number 4, March - April 2000.

The Genetic Implications of Poeisis: An Overview Helena Nelson

'Many suffer from the incurable disease of writing, and it becomes chronic in their sick minds.' Successful identification of the gene Pgf2 has proved Juvenal's satirical comment (c. 108 BC) devastatingly accurate. Genuine stirrings of unease about poets, however, did not occur until the last years of the twentieth century, and even then few paid heed. References to 'an epidemic of new poets in the West', although commonplace in newspapers, drew no serious attention. Many, particularly close friends and relatives of poets, had grave concerns they dared not express openly. It was not until the early studies of Padel (2005) and Sweeney (2005, 2007) that the close connection between verse production and a range of other mental illnesses was definitively established. The Nobel geneticist Eugene Fingal (whose brother had numerous collections of poetry published in book-form as well as on-line), was the first to isolate Pgf2 in 2009 and even then waited three years before publishing his results. The perception of poeisis and its main symptom, the production of verse, changed overnight. Nonetheless, neither genetic studies nor the development of a safe test to predict poeisis in the individual can account for the number of individuals exhibiting symptoms in 2014.

One possible contributory factor may well be rooted in late twentieth century market forces and the rise of capitalism. At this period in time, almost any enterprise could be sanctioned by the prospect of financial gain. As with many other compulsive-obsessive disorders, poeisis was encouraged by entrepreneurs ...


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