Linda Gray Sexton is dutifully working through her late mother's filing cabinets. This little book she justifies as one...

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WORDS FOR DR. Y: Un collected Poems with Three Stories

Linda Gray Sexton is dutifully working through her late mother's filing cabinets. This little book she justifies as one might a salad dressing; she thinks it mixes well. (Anne's really last poems, she promises will be included in the forthcoming collected works.) But what do we have here? Four sections, entitled: ""Letters to Dr. Y, 1960-1970,"" ""Poems, 1971--1973,"" ""Scorpio, Bad Spider, Die: The Horoscope Poems,"" and ""Three Stories,"" in prose, called horror stories by the editor. Nothing new, neither poetic development nor new ""confessions"" . . . Sexton wrote with wit when she had a subject; too often she made her own mind the subject, and her mind was not well-stocked. Here, the stories, of which Linda tells us she was very proud, lack entirely the tension which made Transformations so electric. The miscellaneous poems are just that, and the letters to an imaginary psychiatrist show plainly how very imaginary he was. The best section is ""The Horoscope Poems"" because again she has a topic. She takes little bits of cheap advice: ""Originality Is Important,"" or ""This day is good for attempts to advance a secret hope or dream,"" and with precise irony, shows up the quackery of these too popular quacks. There are, as always, lines worth remembering. "". . . Madame, bring on your forecast/ for I was only sitting here in my white study/ with the awful black words pushing me around."" Or, from the doctor sequence: ""What has it come to/ that I should defy you?/. . . I would be a surgeon/ who cut his own nails./ I would be a glutton/ who threw away his spoon."" But they are all too few.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 1978

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1978