Incorporating Spatial Poetry into a Book Club

Hi everyone,

I’ve run into a bit of a problem. My plan originally was to set up a creative writing club with one of the local high schools, but it’s looking like there may not be as much interest in that as there is for a more traditional book club. The teacher with whom I’m in conversation happens to love the science fiction writer Ted Chiang and his short stories, which I was hoping to introduce students to. I’m looking for ways to incorporate spatial poetry with a book club revolving around Ted Chiang’s science fiction short stories. His work is very realist, and he taps into questions of ethics and philosophy in a lot of his work. I’m just not sure how poetry, or creative writing in general, would work in this kind of setup.

My initial idea was to select certain stories from Chiang’s books and have the students read the work, then come together to meet and discuss what we thought about the story. The only logical next step that I could see myself taking would be to encourage the students to imagine themselves as one of the characters and to write a story from that perspective, whether within the bounds of the source story or not.

If anyone has any ideas or suggestions for ways to integrate spatial poetry, or creative writing more broadly, into this book club model, I’d greatly appreciate it.




I’m imagining incorporating some sort of worldbuilding/mapmaking exercise into this process as part of the spatial poetry component. I almost always end up enjoying books that have a map inside the front cover and refer back to it often. Even if the story takes place within a computer, for instance, a map of circuitry as place could work.

Hi Francesca,

Thank you for the idea! I’ll look into ways of implementing mapmaking into this.

Thanks again,


I am thinking to read the stories, and then think about the important people or places, and make maps and poetry from those readings. I have seen people use fantasy land generators for the map and you put in what you like. Or just draw maps of the stories, which doesn’t have to be geographic, could be a narrative map, and use words from a page in the story to create random poems.

Going forward what about some cool stuff for Women’s History Month in March? Read some good poetry by great women poets to get inspired. Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Rupi Kaur, Amanda Gorman, Mary Oliver, Audre Lorde. Read some women sci-fi authors like Octavia Butler, N.K. Jemisin, or Susanna Clark. Use general maps of your area or the places where the women wrote…use the fantasy land map creator: Azgaar's Fantasy Map Generator

Awesome feedback, Jacqui! Thanks for this! I think having the students consider specific characters or locations within the stories would be one of the most accessible ways to get them thinking about spatial poetry. And you’re totally right about thinking of this in light of Women’s History Month–I’ll see if we have time in our schedule to broaden the project into that context.

Again, thanks!

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