• December 12, 2018
  • Welcome!
    Logout|My Dashboard

Queens Chronicle

qboro—Cabbie Waxes Poetic In New Volume

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, January 18, 2007 12:00 am

The self anointed “King Lear of the Taxi” is enroute to Queens to share his lyrical vision of city life as seen through the rearview mirror of a yellow cab.

Davidson Garrett is the unlikely New York transplant, aspiring actor and author of a new book of prose and poetry.

The slim volume includes notes on urban indifference, an “homage” to the intolerant south from which the author came, and vignettes of city life.

“Stranded on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway,” is a poem any driver whose car has ever broken down on that perilous stretch of road can surely relate to. In neat, sing song rhyming couplets, the poem bemoans the traffic passing Garrett by while he stands with jumper cables in hand.

“Taxi Driver” offers a lovely, if lonely, snippet of a night in the life of a hack, opening with “Yellow zephyr in the dark night” and moving on to solitary meals and fading dreams of a failing artist.

This is Garrett’s first book of poetry, a self published effort. Now 54, Garrett came to New York in 1972 with dreams of making it big as an actor. He first got his taxi driver’s license so he could pay the bills and still be able to audition. Many of his peers from those days have long left the job, but Garrett still gets behind the wheel several nights a week.

Garrett is demure and thoughtful. He sports a gray beard and round tortoise shell glasses he removes at first sight of a camera lens. His speech patterns are rhythmic and engaging, his articulation exquisite. One might expect this from a trained actor, an avid opera fan and an admirer of Whitman and Shakespeare. But his temperament and vocabulary seem more befitting an Ivy League classroom than a yellow cab.

Accompanying Garrett in his taxi on a drive around the borough one recent damp night, the two incongruous halves of his life come seamlessly together. The paradox is as charming as the poems it inspires.

“I thought I was going to have a real life,” he confesses, with one hand on the wheel and eyes trained on the road ahead.

After a brief stint as an elementary school teacher (he holds a master’s in education from City College) he returned to cab driving to support his creative endeavors—poetry and acting—neither of which have amounted to much critical or commercial success.

Somewhere along the way, he discovered that poems were portable. Garrett holds up his cabdriver’s log—a clipboard that often serves to hold whatever poem he is working on. He’ll read it aloud between fares, while he is waiting at the airport, or is stuck in traffic.

He likes to let a poem rest, to “germinate” and then revisit it, he said.

“Once you get a poem cast then the hard part is the revision. The revision can take 20 years,” he explained.

He describes his new collection of poems as a baring of “the soul of the cabdriver,” as he works his hands around the steering wheel, negotiating an illegal U turn on a busy boulevard.

Copies of “King Lear of the Taxi: Musings of a New York City Actor/Taxi Driver” can be purchased directly from Garrett at www.adventpurplepress.com ($15 including shipping and handling) or at www. amazon.com ($16 not including shipping and handling)

Or, if serendipity is on your side, Garrett just may swing over the next time you hail a cab. He has a flier up in the cab advertising the book and always has copies on hand.

Davidson Garrett will read poetry from his new book, “King Lear of the Taxi: Musings of a New York City Actor/Taxi Driver”

Feb. 1; 1:30 p.m. Bay Terrace Library, 18 36 Bell Blvd., Bayside, (718) 423 7004

April 2; 2 p.m., Middle Village Library, 72 31 Metropolitan Ave., Middle Village, (718) 326 1390

Welcome to the discussion.