Recently I found myself enjoying Words for Empty and Words for Full by the inestimable Bob Hicok and came across “BRCA1” (which you can read in this .pdf extract – it’s about four poems in), a poem that makes reference to adenine, one of the four nucleic acids that occur in DNA. “Doesn’t he mean “adenosine”?” I thought, remembering my own poem, “Rush”, about coffee, which references all four of said nucleic acids.
Having become slightly more circumspect with age, these days if I’m unsure – and also if I am quite sure – I know the meaning of a word, I make an effort to double-check that I am, indeed, actually right. With this in mind I popped open my handy dictionary app and searched for “adenosine”. No result. Okay – what about “adenine”? Yep:
Oh holy fuck. That would bring the total of scientific errors in Not Quite the Man for the Job to three. Fuckity. Add that to my recent blue-shift/red-shift gaffe and you can colour me quadruply shamefaced and fool me four times, &c, &c.
I would like to take this opportunity to apologise profusely to anyone who’s ever read Not Quite the Man for the Job, and to any biologists or biochemists out there for my completely egregious lack of even the simplest amount of research when penning the poems in that collection. Rest assured that I will correct this error in the ebook version of NQTMFTJ, and I am happy to offer a free copy of the revised volume to anyone who may have a copy of the “adenosine” version of the book in their posession. Just email me or leave a comment at the end of this post and I’ll send you one post haste (or perhaps that should be “email haste”).
I am now going to go back over every poem I’ve ever written with even the slightest scientific reference and double check everything. If I find any other errors I will be sure to let you know. And maybe I’ll also put one of those punitive placards on and stand in the market square at Wesley Hill on a Saturday to expose my scientific shame to the world. “I GOT THE NAME OF ONE OF THE NUCLEOTIDES WRONG IN A POEM. I AM SORRY. I WILL DO MY RESEARCH PROPERLY IN FUTURE” As is only right.