Jenna Le's debut book is a meditation on love and life, as refracted through the waters of six rivers, ranging from the mighty Mississippi River to the gloomy River Styx. Inspired by her experiences as a Vietnamese-American woman who earned a degree in mathematics before becoming a physician, these poems are sometimes autobiographical, sometimes based on flights of imagination. Peopled by a diverse array of characters drawn from the pages of history and mythology (including the computer programmer Ada Lovelace and the sculptor Louise Bourgeois), and displaying familiarity with a broad gamut of forms ranging from the European sonnet to the Asian haibun, this sensual and often funny book introduces a strong, original new voice in poetry.
In Jenna Le's Six Rivers, one is reminded that if there is such a thing as 'a true American story,' it is a story most often told by one of the descendants of its latest newcomers. That the story here is complicated by a war many would like to forget only makes its telling that much more genuine. And that a story of such consequence can be told by poems fully committed to the lyric-poems as visually precise as they are culturally aware. If the essential poem creates the same capacity it wants to possess, Six Rivers is about as essential as a book can get.
—Peter Richards, poet
Using her six rivers as scaffolding, physician-poet Jenna Le displays her art, sometimes poignant, sometimes unexpectedly sensual, always intriguing.... Underlying all is an intelligent voice which looks frankly at her surroundings and how they reflect our inner lives, our vulnerabilities and desires.
—David Watts, MD, author, poet, and essayist
Playful, serious poems; forms deftly dealt with; a voice telling of things seen, imagined: a remarkable collection that moves across cultures telling stories that amuse, illuminate, unsettle, but always manage to carry the reader to a new even when familiar place.
—David McCann, poet and Harvard professor of Asian literature