North Stars: A Series of Interviews With My Remarkable Literary and Artistic Friends

By Annie Newcomer:


Today, as I continue my North Stars Series, I am honored to share with you a talented and dear friend, Davidson Garrett, who I met in New York City two years ago.


AN: Davidson, will you share with our readers the story of how we first met?


DG: I first met Annie in 2018 at a cute little French bistro in the Carnegie Hill section of Manhattan. The Sunday brunch was arranged by the noted poet Molly Peacock because Annie was flying in for her workshop at the 92nd Street Y later that afternoon. There were two other female poets at the restaurant when Annie, beaming with joy, walked into the charming little place that looked like something in a French film. We all introduced ourselves, with Molly being the official host. When it came time for me to give my name and a little bit of bio, I think Annie might have been taken aback for a moment when I said that I was a New York City yellow taxi driver. After all, taxi drivers are not always associated with high-toned poetry at the 92nd Street Y. Rather than surprised, Annie loved that I was a cab driver and wanted to know about some of my adventures behind the wheel. It was a lovely afternoon in NYC, and we all went to the Cooper Hewitt Museum to be inspired to write Ekphrastic poetry. A New York City taxi driver and a Kansas Prairie lady in a classy French café. Only in New York.


AN: Davidson, when I returned home to Kansas City, I don’t think that I told you but I wrote about our meeting as though I was a character in Harry Potter. May I share what I wrote about meeting you and the class that day?


DG: I would love to see what you wrote.


AN: I stand before Headmistress Molly of the Order of the Peacock. She is more beautiful than sunlight. This Princess of Verse is adorned in a majestic scarf and magical glasses that allow her to see deeply into the soul. There is no fooling her. As the Selection Process begins, she must sense the longing in my heart.


“Annie Newcomer—House of the Peacock.”


Ahhhhh. I cannot hide my smiles of joy. But who will be my protectors in this daunting Kingdom called New York City? I gaze up at her again. Though silent, she hears my inner voice.


“You shall be flanked by the extraordinary Davidson, whose gifts of veracity, vivacity, enviable stage presence, and friendship know no bounds, and the gentle Victoria, the timid one but whose verse is stronger than steel.”


I look at these two remarkable Wizards and know I am, indeed, fortunate.


DG: Ah. So you see me as a magical wizard.


AN: Indeed, I do, and so grateful for our friendship. What a wonderful class we shared at NYC’s renowned 92nd Street Y, the reading place to some of the most prominent writers in the world. Even Paul McCartney of The Beetles’ fame read there when he introduced his poetry book, Blackbird.


When you write, Davidson, who do you see as your audience?


DG: I write for myself, for my own self-growth as a poet, and my poems are meant for anyone who likes to read poetry, whether they are writers themselves or just readers who love poetry.


AN: You are a skilled actor and writer of many forms. What is it that draws you in to express yourself through poetry?


DG: I write poetry to have a better idea of who I am as a human being and through this art form discover nuances about myself and to document my life in words. I have read poetry all my life and started to write it myself when I was about twenty years old. Writing poetry is my way to document my life in words and to create an artistic journal of my journey on this Earth.


AN: Do you have poems that you have composed that are special to you?


DG: Two poems I have written that bring me lasting joy are "To Tell the Truth I Wanted to be Kitty Carlisle" and "O To Sing at the Teatro Colón.” The first poem is a free verse poem that is a homage to Kitty Carlisle Hart, who was a great influence on me as a teenager. She was my idea of culture, sophistication, and the embodiment of a true New Yorker. The second poem is a pantoum form, and it is a fantasy poem about my love and passion for opera.


AN: I know from our correspondence that you love music. Do you have a favorite piece?


DG: My favorite music: the organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach and the operas of Giuseppe Verdi.


AN: Now is when I ask my “North Stars” to select a question. What might you like to ask yourself?


DG: That sounds like fun. OK. Davidson, how important is the title of a poem for you?


A poem's title is important for me, and I take my time when writing to come up with a title that will immediately draw the curiosity of readers. A title is part of the poem that can give time, place, context, tone, or mood to a poem. Sometimes readers will long remember a good title even more than the first line of the poem. I respect poets who title their poems"Untitled," but for me the title is the hook that will first interest readers.


AN: Davidson, to complete my Flash Interview, I ask my “North Star” poets to share two poems with us that they have written. You mentioned that you have two that bring you “lasting joy”? Will you share them here?


DG: Of course. These two poems are from my poetry books. I hope that they will also bring you joy.


AN: Thank you so much, my friend, for sharing with us.



To Tell the Truth: I Wanted To Be Kitty Carlisle!

By Davidson Garrett


Number One: What does pianissimo mean?


Number Two: Who was Franz Lehar?


Number Three: Who starred in A Night at the Opera

with Grocho Marx?


That 60’s game show, To Tell The Truth,

introduced America to Orson Bean, Peggy Cass,

Bud Collier & Kitty Carlisle. Urbane, cosmopolitan-types


burning black & white televisions

with sunny personalities. But it was Miss Carlisle

who furnished the class. Behind a panelists’ desk


glowing with a lacquered bouffant

& smart Chanel dress, she flashed champagne smiles

at slick imposters—stumping with false identities—


prompting her to bestow on these tricksters

a slow, ha-ha-ha laugh, like a grand doyenne

amused at a ritzy Park Avenue party.


Such radiant sophistication—earned envious affection

from me, a hick in the hinterland, who, for a few minutes each week

was vicariously transported by Kitty


to glittery Broadway or New York society—

as I sat transfixed on a designer couch

from the chic catalogue of Montgomery Ward.


—In Memory of Kitty Carlisle Hart

O to Sing at the Teatro Colón

By Davidson Garrett


In dreams, I tango with ego, to Opera’s gilded temple

Imagination transcends gender and vocal technique

A fantasy début as the Druid priestess Norma

Like Callas inside the crown jewel of Buenos Aires


Imagination transcends gender and vocal technique

Before thousands of panting Argentineans

Like Callas inside the crown jewel of Buenos Aires

My silvery soprano soars over coloratura hurdles


Before thousands of panting Argentineans

Tigress eyes flash beneath a swirling puffed bouffant

My silvery soprano soars over coloratura hurdles

Cape-flinging and statuesque arm-crossed breasts


Tigress eyes flash beneath a swirling puffed bouffant

An ethereal Casta Diva—blessed by perfect acoustics

Cape-flinging and statuesque arm-crossed breasts

Lyrical death on the funeral pyre—earns lusty bravas


An ethereal Casta Diva—blessed by perfect acoustics

A fantasy début as the Druid priestess Norma

Lyrical death on the funeral pyre—earns lusty bravas

In dreams, I tango with ego, to Opera’s gilded temple


These two poems originally published in “To Tell the Truth I Wanted to be Kitty Carlisle and Other Poems,” Finishing Line Press, 2013

Annie Newcomer teaches poetry classes at the University of Kansas Medical Center's Turning Point—a place for hope and healing for people suffering with chronic health problems. Her North Stars series shares interviews with poets and writers and Annie's own experiences through writing.