A Taxi-Driver Poet? Anything is possible in New York

As a full-time education consultant, Allison Zmuda works with educators to grow ideas on how to make learning for students challenging, possible and worthy of the attempt. Over the past 19 years, Zmuda has shared curricular, assessment, and instructional ideas, shown illustrative examples, and offered practical strategies of how to get started.

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Davidson GarrettI struck up a conversation with the cabbie to pass the time to LaGuardia airport. The frustration with the traffic faded away as I became fascinated by his story. He started his career as an actor, taught elementary school, and now he is a full-time poet/cab driver.

“Being a poet doesn’t pay the bills,” Davidson Garrett said. “But I see the whole world behind my plexi-glass window.”

When an idea comes to him in his cab, he quickly jots it down on a scrap piece of paper. Once Davidson is no longer behind the wheel, the collections of phrases and notes inspire the draft of a poem. He prints it out and uses the downtime in the cab to rework the language and imagery. Here is one of Davidson’s poems from his first collection, “King Lear of the Taxi.”

Coffee Break

by Davidson Garrett

A corpulent couple
seated next to me at a coffee bar
contemplates a newly purchased jar

of caviar. They study the glass container
earnestly, resembling Nobel-prize-winning scientists
gazing upon microorganisms. Each printed

Davidson Garrettword on the label is read aloud:
name of product; export city; port of entry;
ingredients; net weight;—price.

The precious morsels are held in triumph—
as if ravenous refugees had found
the last scrap of food on earth

after the devastation of war.  Around and around
the man and woman turn the hallowed fish eggs,
their excited tongues full of salivary

sensuousness. Soon they depart—
and I wonder if the epicurean delicacy
will ever be consumed—

or will it become a secret idol of worship
upon which a jeweled tabernacle is built
to house it in their kitchen?

selection from King Lear of the Taxi: Musings of a New York City Actor/Taxi Driver (Advent Purple Press)
© 2006 Davidson Garrett

That got me thinking — how do we pursue our dreams while still dealing with our daily realities? Our responsibilities to pay the monthly bills, do a mountain of homework, grade a stack of assignments, prepare for a Board meeting, do not define what we hope to be. Davidson is living proof of that; he uses his time to create.

What do you want to be know for? What impact do you want to have on the world? Whether it is a few stolen minutes each day or a full-time career, go after fascinating and share your ideas with the world.

Want to hear more from Davidson? Purchase his book or watch the YouTube clip of the Taxi Drivers Workshop:


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Ellen McNett
Ellen McNett
4 years ago

I can relate. The lack of creativity involved in educational bureaucracy is what drove me to this PD plan, and the ambition to take mundane memorization tasks (which still have to be done, agreed) and represent them using fine arts. I don’t really care about being known in the world for that-my focus is on making my own work interesting, and also lightening the load for my students.