Davidson Garrett (born September 11, 1952), a.k.a. King Lear of the Taxi, is an American poet and actor, living in Manhattan, who has worked as a New York City yellow taxi cab driver, since the 1970s, to support his acting and writing pursuits.
Garrett is the author of several books of poetry. A recent chapbook titled To Tell The Truth I Wanted To Be Kitty Carlisle and Other Poems was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013. King Lear of the Taxi: Musings of a New York City Actor/Taxi Driver, the poet's first full-length collection, was published by Advent Purple Press in 2006. An earlier chapbook manuscript, "Taxi Dreams," was one of six finalists for the Gival Press Chapbook Award in 2000. Poems and other writings have appeared in The New York Times,Xavier Review, The Episcopal New Yorker, Marco Polo Arts Magazine, and Podium, the online literary journal of the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center. His poetry has been anthologized in Beyond the Rift: Poets of the Palisades (The Poets Press, 2010) and in Pears, Prose and Poetry (Poets Wear Prada / Eggplant Press, 2011).
Garrett caught the attention of the public eye after the 2006 publication of his book King Lear of the Taxi. Poems from Garrett's book were used as text in the short film Taxi Driver - King Lear of the Taxi by director Ray Andrew Wilkes of Flashgun Films, Keele, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, UK. Garrett provided the voice-over (recorded in a studio in NYC) to accompany footage of British cab drivers in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. The film was a response to media reports of increased violence against cab drivers in the West Midlands and was screened at London's Portobello Film Festival in 2008.
In 2009 Garrett was featured in Amy Braunschweiger's book Taxi Confidential: Life, Death and 3 a.m. Revelations in New York City Cabs. In 2012, the same year Garrett was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, he was profiled in New York Magazine by the journalist Kate Lowenstein in her article titled "I Drive A Taxi, But I Also ..."
In 2013 Garrett was invited to take part in a taxi drivers' writing workshop organized by the poet Mark Nowak and sponsored by the PEN World Voices Festival. He and two other members of the workshop read their taxi poems at "Watching the Meter: Poetry from the Taxi Drivers Workshop" at The Public Theater's Joe's Pub in New York City.
In 2014, Garrett was once again invited by PEN World Voices to read his taxi poems, at the Pen World Voices' celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, an event which also featured United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. Also in June 2014, Garrett was awarded first place in the 2nd Annual Juanita Torrence-Thompson International Poetry Competition sponsored by Amulet Poetry Magazine.
In 2015, Advent Purple Press published a new chapbook by Garrett titled Southern Low Protestant Departure: A Funeral Poem. The poem is a long narrative work, written in the tercet verse form, which depicts a Protestant funeral in a small Southern town. Also in 2015, Garrett had a spoken-word play published titled Conspiracy Theory: The Mysterious Death of Dorothy Kilgallen. This play was published in Issue 8 of the performance art journal, Nerve Lantern.
As a spoken word performance poet, Garrett has appeared in many venues throughout New York City. In 2009, 2010, and 2016, he performed in poet Joel Allegretti's tribute to Leonard Cohen, You Know Who I Am, which was produced by Greenwich Village’s Cornelia Street Cafe. In 2013, he was invited to be a part of the Boog City Poet Theater Night which was part of the annual Boog City Music and Poetry Festival in the East Village. He performed a solo poetic monologue, King Lear of the Taxi, adapted from his poetry collection. Garrett was cast in the play, Ishtar Redux, by poet John J. Trause that was staged in 2013 at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in an evening of performance works produced by the journal, Nerve Lantern. In August 2015, he was invited back to the Boog City Poet Theatre Night to perform a new poetic monologue with incidental music titled Nine Meditations on the Nothingness of Now. He collaborated with the musician, Michael Skliar.
In January 2016, Garrett performed a long narrative poem, "The Traveler I Have Spoken To" by playwright Dan Evans. This poem served as a prelude to the playwright's play about Henry David Thoreau, "The Poll Tax Matter." The performance was part of The Transcendental Play Festival at Metropolitan Playhouse in New York's East Village and ran for several performances in repertory with other plays on the subject of Transcendentalism.
Flushing Town Hall, a cultural arts organization in the Borough of Queens, invited Garrett to give an outdoor poetry reading in Diversity Plaza in June 2016, as part of a cultural program celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month in Jackson Heights. Garrett performed poetry from "King Lear of the Taxi."
In August 2016, Garrett was the curator for The Poet Theater Night for the 9th Annual Boog City Music, Poetry and Theater Festival in the East Village. He programmed eight spoken-word plays and performed in the Chinese poet Zhang Er's "Tacoma Method," and San Francisco based poet, Christine Choi's "Unfinished Acts." He also served as Master of Ceremonies for this evening at the SideWalk Cafe.
In December 2016, The William Carlos Williams Poetry Cooperative of Southern Bergen County, New Jersey, invited Davidson Garrett to be the featured poet for their monthly poetry series. Garrett performed his entire funeral poem, "Southern Low Protestant Departure" at the William Carlos Williams Center for the Performing Arts in Rutherford, New Jersey.,
Advent Purple Press published a new poetry chapbook by Davidson Garrett in April, 2017. The book is titled "What Happened to The Man Who Taught Me 'Beowulf' and Other Poems." The Beowulf poem is a narrative poem about a high school teacher that made an impact on the poet and how this teacher intersected years later in the poet's life. The "Other Poems" portion of the book is "Nine Meditations on The Nothingness of Now."
In January 2017, Garrett was invited to read poems in a series of shows at The Cornelia Street Cafe titled: "What Were The Sixties Really Like?" which were produced and curated by the poet/playwright Kathyn Adisman. He was featured in four of the shows throughout the year in which he read poems about his remembrances of growing up in the 1960s that included tribute poems to Kitty Carlisle Hart and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The shows were all filmed and appear on YouTube.
Davidson Garrett's spoken word play, "Conspiracy Theory: The Mysterious Death of Dorothy Kilgallen" was performed in a staged reading at the 2017 Boog City Poet Theater Festival in New York's East Village. The cast included the poets John J. Trause, Patricia Carragon, and performance artist Lulu Lolo. Garrett was the Narrator for the play which explored Dorothy Kilgallen's link to the Kennedy assassination.
In November 2017, Garrett's poem "A Taxi Driver's Die Gotterdammerung" was included in the poetry anthology, "From Somewhere to Nowhere: The End of the American Dream," which was published by Autonomedia, a nationally known publisher of radical books. This poem documents Garrett's experience when his yellow taxi was parked under the North Tower of the World Trade Center at the moment the first plane hit the North Tower on September 11, 2001.
Also in 2017, Garrett's short story, "Just Another Taxi Shift" was published in the San Francisco based literary magazine, Conceit Magazine, Volume 11, Number 123.
A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Davidson Garrett came to New York to pursue an acting career, studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and with Alice Spivak at the Herbert Berghof Studio in Greenwich Village. Garrett graduated from The City College of New York with an M.S. in Education. A member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors' Equity, he has worked since 1973 in theater, film and television.
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