Salvinia Molesta


University of Georgia Press, 2008

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.


"'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

"In the vivid lyrical world of Victoria Chang's Salvinia Molesta, a cardinal is a 'Christ of/ little bones,' hummingbirds have 'tent stake' noses, and bullets 'make things beyond recognition.' And whether she is exploring the effects of the Japanese rape of Nanking, the greed of corporate America, or the complications of sexual desire, she does so with a razor-like sharpness that cuts through the skin of experience without disturbing the delicate, mesmerizing, and disturbing network of capillaries that feed its life. This is a poetry of calm and unflinching exposure, deft and precise."
--Michael Collier

"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


Many poets display a single strength. Some write beautiful nature poems, others write well about relationships, still others have a gift for addressing issues like politics or economics. Chang can do it all. She wowed the poetry world three years ago with her debut collection, Circles.... Look for her to make another splash with Salvinia Molesta, which takes on everything from sexuality to global politics in searing poems., September 15, 2008