A Boring Subject?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Last Tuesday I presented a workshop on poetry as an agent of social change. Actually, my contribution was a breakout session from a larger workshop presented by the Indiana Writers' Consortium (in which I am actively involved) in partnership with The Writing Center at Purdue University Calumet.

The workshop was part of PUC's One Book/One University project, where freshmen read and discuss The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Most of the sessions the students have attended over the academic year concentrated on the medical and ethical issues raised by the book. Our workshop looked at how creative writing techniques can be used to make a difference in the world.

Written as creative non-fiction, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks takes the complicated and often boring subjects of cell culture and scientific research and turns them into a fascinating story about one cell donor and her family. The book explores the ethical issues involved when taking living cells from a donor without her consent and using those cells to produce medical advances that benefit millions

When I first volunteered for this project, I did not look forward to reading the book. Medical issues sounded about as dense and dull to me as legal issues sound to most of you. But I soon found myself drawn into the story, and I learned things I would have tuned out if they were part of an academic or medical treatise. This book proves what H.L. Mencken said: "There are no dull subjects. There are only dull writers." Rebecca Skloot is not a dull writer.

So if you want to expand your mind without being bored, I recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

No comments:

Post a Comment