Davidson Garrett

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Davidson Garrett

Davidson Garrett (born September 11, 1952), a.k.a. King Lear of the Taxi, is an American poet and actor, living in Manhattan, who drove a New York City yellow taxi cab from 1978 until 2018 to supplement his acting and writing career.[1]

Garrett is the author of several books of poetry. A 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.[2] Poems and other writings have appeared in The New York Times,[3]Xavier Review,"The Paddock Review," "Sensations Magazine,"[4] "First Literary Review East,[5] "The Ekphrastic Review," [6]"The Stillwater Reveiw,",[7]"The Episcopal New Yorker",[8] Marco Polo Arts Magazine,[9] and Podium,[10] the online literary journal of the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center. His poetry has been anthologized in "From Somewhere To Nowhere: The End of the American Dream"(autonomedia,2017),[11] "Beyond the Rift: Poets of the Palisades (The Poets Press, 2010)[12] 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.[13] Garrett provided the voice-over (recorded in a recording 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.[14]

In 2009 Garrett was featured in Amy Braunschweiger's book Taxi Confidential: Life, Death and 3 a.m. Revelations in New York City Cabs.[15] 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 ..."[16]

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.[17] 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.[18]

In 2014, Garrett was 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.[19]

In 2015, Advent Purple Press published a new chapbook by Garrett titled Southern Low Protestant Departure: A Funeral Poem.[20] 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.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23] 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.[24] 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[25] 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[26] 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."[27]

In August 2016, Garrett was the curator for Poets' Theater at the 9th Annual Boog City Music, Poetry and Theater Festival[28] 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.,[29]

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."[30] 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.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33]

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.[34]

In May 2018, Garrett was invited by New York City Councilman, Daniel Dromm, and Flushing Town Hall, to be a featured performer for the Cultural Arts Program celebrating the Borough of Queens' LGBTQ Pride Month which was held at The Queens Center in Elmhurst, Queens. For several hundred invited guests, Davidson read poetry relating to his upbringing in Louisiana from his poetry book, "To Tell The Truth I Wanted to be Kitty Carlisle and Other Poems," and poetry about his life as a New York City Taxi Driver. Also featured on the program, the contemporary dancer, Xiang Xu, and the R&B singer, Alfa Anderson, who was formerly the lead vocalist in Chic (band) [35]

The Workers Unite Film Festival which is an annual event in New York City, invited Garrett to be one of the featured poets on May 18, 2018, in a venue in Brooklyn, New York, as a prelude to the feature film, "The Acting Class," by British filmmakers, Deirdre O'Neill and Mike Wayne. The poetry reading was curated by the poet, Vanessa Jimenez Gabb. Garrett spoke about the taxi industry and also read poems about his long career as a taxi driver.[36]

On June 18, 2018, Garrett was featured at The Cornelia Street Cafe in Greenwich Village in a spoken word show titled: "Ghost City Cabaret." The show's theme was Weimar Republic Meets Trump's America. Garrett served as co-host of the evening with the cabaret singer, Maria Neuda. The evening was curated and staged by playwright poet, Kathryn Adisman. Garrett performed his ekphrasis poem, "Viewing Gert Wolheim's (untitled couple) from 1926 at The Jewish Museum." This poem was published in The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow Anthology in October 2018.[37]

In September, 2018, Davidson Garrett was invited to be the curator of the 11th Annual Poets' Theater for The Boog City Art, Music, and Theater Festival, held in the East Village, Manhattan. He programmed eight short plays at The SideWalk Cafe featuring the poet/playwrights, Allan Yashin, Elizabeth Primamore, Nina Howes, Barbara Kahn, Mark Blickley, William Considine, Tiffany Joy Butler, and Dan Evans. Davidson served as Emcee for the standing room only event.[38]

On September 30, 2018, Garrett was invited to be the poetry curator of "An Afternoon of Poetry in Albert's Garden." One of the most beautiful community gardens in New York City, Albert's Garden is located at 16-18 2nd Street, in Manhattan's East Village. The garden was established in 1971 and is open to the public from the Spring until early Fall. For this reading, Garrett invited the poets, Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, John J. Trause, Hilary Sideris, Austin Alexis, and Jessica Nooney to be featured with readings from their published works. Garrett served as Emcee for the event held in the shade garden and he ended the reading with his recently published poem, "Texas Wildflowers in Spring: In Memory of Lady Bird Johnson."[39]

Garrett lived at The McBurney Y.M.C.A. in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea from 1978 until 2000. This was the same YMCA that was made famous by the Village People's song, "YMCA." It was living at the McBurney YMCA where Garrett began writing his poetry in earnest, inspired by the humanity he encountered as neighbors for 22 years. In December 2018, Garrett was interviewed by the online newspaper, The Gothamist, for the 40th Anniversary of the song, YMCA, reflecting on what it was like to be a tenant at the Y in the 1970s.[40]

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.[41] As a stage actor, he appeared in verse plays of William Shakespeare, W.H. Auden, and T.S. Eliot and toured in much of the United States. He also performed for the USO in Europe. For television and film, he worked on All My Children, The Guiding Light, Spin City, OZ, Law and Order, As The World Turns, New York Undercover, and was featured in the award-winning documentary, "Something Within Me," which aired in 1994 on PBS. In May 2018, his filmed poetry reading from The World Monuments Fund Gallery at The Prince George Hotel in New York City was broadcast on Manhattan Cable's Weekly Series, "Celebrating Art."[42]


  1. ^ http://www.adventpurplepress.com
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  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2014-05-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Marco Polo". marcopoloartsmag.com. Archived from the original on 2014-05-06. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  10. ^ "Taxi Driver Villanelle - Podium - Issue 10 - 92nd Street Y - New York, NY". 92y.org. Archived from the original on 2014-05-06. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
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  12. ^ http://www.poetspress.org/fp_rift.shtml
  13. ^ "Artikel drucken - Flashgun Films release new film - King Lear of the Taxi". openpr.com. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  14. ^ http://www.portobellofilmfestival.com/image/2008pics/programme08.pdf
  15. ^ "Taxi Drivers Turn Around and Share Their World - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com". Archived from the original on 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  16. ^ "The Everything Guide to Taxis - New York Taxi Drivers -- New York Magazine". nymag.com. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  17. ^ "The New York Times". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  18. ^ http://www.pen.org/event/2013/02/14/watching-meter-poetry-taxi-drivers-workshop
  19. ^ "Poets & Writers". pw.org. Retrieved 2015-09-15.
  20. ^ "Latest News". adventpurplepress.com. Retrieved 2015-09-15.
  21. ^ "Announcing the release of Nerve Lantern issues 8 & 9". pyriformpress.com. Retrieved 2015-09-15.
  22. ^ "The Cornelia Street Café Hosts An Evening of Spoken Word and Music". nymetroparents.com. Retrieved 2015-09-15.
  23. ^ "Nerve Lantern News". pyriformpress.com. Retrieved 2015-09-15.[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Annual Boog City Festival". broadwayworld.com. Retrieved 2015-09-15.
  25. ^ http://www.metropolitanplayhouse.org/transcendentalfest
  26. ^ http://www1.nyc.gov/site/cecm/permitting/diversity-plaza.page
  27. ^ https://flushingtownhall.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/introducing-davidson-garrett/
  28. ^ http://www.onthewilderside.com/2016/07/25/boog-city-poetry-music-theater-fest-85-8916/
  29. ^ https://www.evensi.us/wcw-open-williams-center-for-the-arts-rutherford-nj/160632289
  30. ^ https://www.amazon.com/dp/0977444627/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493337838&sr=8-1&keywords=Davidson+Garrett
  31. ^ http://thevillager.com/2017/01/11/and-a-60s-child-shall-lead-them/
  32. ^ http://poeticslist.chicagoschoolofpoetics.com/2017/08/welcome-to-boog-city-11-festival-in-one-month/
  33. ^ https://www.printedmatter.org/catalog/49683
  34. ^ https://sites.google.com/site/conceitmagazine/home
  35. ^ http://www.flushingtownhall.org/event/600c14c6834831be040ec803937a2e57
  36. ^ https://www.workersunitefilmfestival.org/festival-calendar-2018/2018/5/18/program-26-poetry-and-spoken-word-performances-with-film-the-acting-class
  37. ^ http://www.corneliastreetcafe.com/list.asp?sdate=6/18/2018&from_cal=0
  38. ^ https://newyork.carpe-diem.events/calendar/8013223-welcome-to-boog-city-12-arts-festival-at-unnameable-books/
  39. ^ https://www.nycgovparks.org/events/2018/09/30/an-afternoon-of-poetry-at-alberts-garden
  40. ^ http://gothamist.com/2018/12/20/real_ymca_village_people.php
  41. ^ http://adventpurplepress.com/
  42. ^ https://davidsongarrett.com/

Other sources[edit]

The New York Times, N.Y. / Region, "Y.M.C.A. in Chelsea Sheds Its Tenants; 34 Men Used to Single Rooms Know New Homes Will Be Hard to Find," by Robin Pogrebin, July 17, 1999

The New York Times, N.Y. / Region, "Tenants Protest Y.M.C.A. Sale and Loss of a Chelsea Home," by Winnie Hu, November 14, 1999

Queens Chronicle, qboro: Arts, Culture & Living, "Cabbie Waxes Poetic In New Volume," by Jennifer Manley, January 18, 2007

Taxi-Mart News Blog, "Taxi Driver Writes Between Fares," by Jessica Lyons, February 2, 2007

Times Ledger, "Boro libraries host readings of city taxi driver’s poems," by Jennifer Saavedra, February 15, 2007

Poets Wear Prada: "Poets Wear Prada Announces Six Nominations for Pushcart Prize," by Roxanne Hoffman, December 5, 2011

Melville House, "New York taxi drivers read their poetry at PEN World Voices Festival," by Nick Davies, May 7, 2013

PEN America: Davidson Garrett, a New York City taxi driver, reads a selection of poems at "Watching the Meter: Poetry from the Taxi Drivers Workshop" at Joe's Pub, PEN World Voices Festival 2013 on YouTube

PEN America: The Nuyorican Poets Cafe 40th Anniversary Celebration: Davidson Garrett, May 3, 2014 on YouTube

Advent Purple Press: Selections from King Lear of the Taxi

Poetryvlog.com, a weekly video reading of poetry by the poet curated by George Wallace: Three poems read by Davidson Garrett

nycBigCityLit.com: "Movie Extra in Central Park," "The Backscratcher," Fall 2007

nycBigCityLit.com: "The Poet's Decision: Aesthetic Choices in Writing:Molly Peacock at the 92nd St. Y," Fall 2011

MattSky.com: Interview - Davidson Garrett, King Lear of The Taxi, Ted Krasdale, May 6, 2010 on YouTube

Amazon.com: Davidson Garrett

Just Start for Kids and Schools, Educators, Ideas & Innovators, Kids, Parents, "A Taxi-Driver Poet? Anything is possible in New York," by Allison Zmuda, October 16, 2013

Finishing Line Press: To Tell The Truth I Wanted To Be Kitty Carlisle and Other Poems, Blurb by poet Dean Kostos, November 27, 2012

Finishing Line Press: To Tell The Truth I Wanted To Be Kitty Carlisle and Other Poems, Blurb by poet Molly Peacock, November 27, 2012

Taxi Confidential: Life, Death and 3 a.m. Revelations in New York City Cabs, by Amy Braunschweiger, Austin, TX: Octane Press, 2009