I need help creating an acrostic poem about "Henrietta Lacks." (Each line must start with a letter of her name.)

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amarang9's profile pic

amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

For this acrostic, consider the theme of immortality. After all, this is in the title of her biography and is a common theme in poetry. For an example, in Shakespeare's Sonnet 18, the speaker tells his beloved that she will be immortalized by the lines of the poem. Henrietta is a more interesting example of immortality and she is so in a number of ways. First, her HeLa line of cells is literally immortal. Secondly, and most significant to Rebecca Skloot's book is the immortality of Henrietta in memory. She is remembered in Skloot's book. She is remembered among her family and friends. There are photographs of Henrietta. There have even been songs written about her: from punk (Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine's "The Cells that Will Not Die") to pop/world music (Mal Webb's "Helen Lane"). 

To go along with the previous suggestions on structure and techniques (alliteration, metaphor, rhyme), play with immortality as a theme and the different ways Henrietta has been immortalized. 

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Here is an example of an acrostic poem made from Miss Henrietta Lacks. Hopefully, you will create your own when you see how you can just invert some sentences and let some lines begin as a continuation of a previous line. Throw in some figures of speech, some alliteration to make the poem move along, and create a rhyme scheme. The aabbeeddee, etc. (rhyming paired line) is fairly easy to do. Write some metaphors, etc. Have fun with it. 

This will just use her first name as an example:

Henrietta has been immortalized in scientists' secret hives,
Eternally perpetuated in her cancer cells that save lives,
Not knowingly yet imparting knowledge with each discovery,
Repeated, respected cells working for women's recovery
In time her "devil of pain" found meaning for those cured
Else all had been but in vain, and her suffering singled. 
T
hanks must be given to this valiant woman alone in agony,  
Thanks for opportunities for cures and treatments many,
A
lways we will remember thee, dear Henrietta, plenty.

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