Salvinia Molesta

Poems by Victoria Chang

A second book of poems by the winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award


"'Collision' is the title of one of the best poems in Salvinia Molesta, and like the poem, this remarkable book is itself an intersection where the personal, the global, the political, and the domestic all collide in a shower of sparks. Inevitably there is damage here, brutality, depravity, but there is great beauty as well—the kind that endures. Salvinia Molesta is a book of lasting power."
—James Longenbach

"Invasive species: just one of the thousand signs we’ve learned so terribly after the fact to read. Salvinia molesta: one of the worst; it can smother a lake in days. And under its proliferant injunction, Victoria Chang surveys the paths that brought us here. She charts her course through biosphere and boardroom, the intimate spaces of private infidelity, the vast terrains of state-supported slaughter. How is it, in poems so keenly tuned to history and all its harms, that the reader finds elation? Because in art this finely pitched we have the one true antidote."
—Linda Gregerson

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Victoria Chang's collection takes its title from what many call "the worst weed in the world," a plant so rapidly and uncontrollably invasive that it is illegal to sell or possess in the United States. Chang explores this image of vitality and evil in three thematically grouped sections focusing on corporate greed, infidelity and desire, and historical atrocities, including the excesses of the Cultural Revolution in China and the massacre of Chinese people in Nanking by Japanese troops in World War II.

This edgy, fierce subject matter becomes engaging and fresh as Chang applies her powers of imagination to the extraordinary lives of Madame Mao, investment banker Frank P. Quattrone, and others living at extraordinary historical moments. In "Seven Stages of Genocide," for example, the poem's speaker is herded into a death camp along with a neighbor that he strongly dislikes: "The barbed wire around us forces me / to catch his breath that smells like goose." Chang focuses her attention to occurrences in the world that many poets find too violent or disturbing to write about, thereby making her own distinctive aesthetic from that which is, like Salvinia molesta, both creepy and beautiful.

The VQR Poetry Series

Page count: 104 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $19.95

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Victoria Chang lives in Irvine, California, and received an MFA in poetry from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. She also holds an MA in Asian history from Harvard, along with an MBA from Stanford, and works as a business researcher and writer for the business school. Her first book of poems, Circle, was the winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award. Her poems have appeared in such publications as Best American Poetry 2005, Paris Review, Kenyon Review, and the Washington Post. She is also the editor of Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation.