Peter Davison    One of the Dangerous Trades: Essays on the Work and Workings of Poetry.
University of Michigan Press, 218 pages, $32.50; $11.95 paper

Peter Davison is that rare individual, a contemporary poet who has spent his entire working life outside of the academy. The sixty-three-year-old Davison has had a long and distinguished career as a trade-book editor, first at Atlantic Monthly Press, where he was director, and more recently at Houghton Mifflin, where he has his own imprint. In addition, Davison has served for many years as poetry editor of The Atlantic. Despite such demanding professional obligations, Davison has somehow managed to find time to write nine volumes of verse and an autobiography, as well as a substantial amount of literary journalism, a selection of which now takes its place in Michigan’s “Poets on Poetry” series. In these essays, reviews, and memoirs—culled from...

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