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Taking its title from Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Organs of Little Importance  asks why we cling so dearly to the vestigial parts of our psychologies—residues of first impressions, thought spirals to nowhere, memories that persist despite outliving their usefulness. The speaker in these poems tries to wear more color, indulges in Y2K nostalgia and falls in and out of love; a Jungian psychoanalyst has a field day with her dreams. 

Organs of Little Importance is a riotous feat. Mixing registers with an ease born of a pained listening, Chung names the isolations, the absurdities, the machinations of our mediated moments. Underpinning these poems of desire and observation, the difficult retrievals of a fraught mother daughter relationship. This is a book of presence and alienation that assays as often as it represents. Ferocious. Funny. Deeply intelligent. Adrienne Chung leaves a charred wake.” 

      Solmaz Sharif, 

author of Customs and Look

"It should be an impossible thing that a book of poems could be both immensely pleasurable and intensely introspective, could revel in the absurdities of daily life and plumb psychic depths, and perform these contraries with unstinting grace and intelligence—but Adrienne Chung has written just such a book. Line by line these poems build to that pregnant pause of utmost human irony, where the work of memory leads to the inevitability of oblivion. Immediate pleasures will keep you turning page to page, but long after every page has been turned, a deep and difficult wisdom remains, haunting, honest, and brave."

—Dan Beachy-Quick, 

author of Variations on Dawn and Dusk and Work from Memory

"...Extravagant, full, funny, poignant, perceptive... Chung’s tremendous talent for careful discernment is found everywhere throughout. Psychologically adroit, formally complex and with an ear tuned to the beauty of our language, Organs of Little Importance is an important and memorable debut."

—Mark Wunderlich, 

author of God of Nothingness

“Adrienne Chung dies and is reborn repeatedly through the sonnet, but one of the many forms her plaintive brilliance demolishes and resurrects in her marvelous debut. From Jungian analysis and Joni Mitchell to Disney trauma and the blue of noon, Chung’s San Francisco breathes its many lineages’ despairs into her bleak enumerations and wicked, satisfying rhymes. She always wins, but in that pyrrhic, poetic way that refuses to let such triumph ever be enough. So true. So good.” 

—Ariana Reines, 

author of A Sand Book

"Chung's poems are visionary; they thrill as they burrow into unusual crevices of feeling, offering up both sly little revelations and a superabundance of insight. I loved this twisted guidebook to living in a present populated largely by ghosts."

—Alexandra Kleeman, 

author of Something New Under the Sun


While Darwin was perplexed and ultimately dismissive of these seemingly useless body parts, Organs of Little Importance reframes and repositions the apparent uselessness of our compulsions, superstitions, errant thoughts, and other selves. In diptychs and ghazals, sonnets and lullabies, Chung collects and preserves pieces of psychological debris as one would care for precious heirlooms, revealing their surprising potential to become sites of meaning and connection.

Order here.


Winner of the National Poetry Series, 

a debut collection about psychology, 

love, and memory 

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