Steve Cannon

AALBC Mourns the Passing of Poet, Publisher, Novelist, Steve Cannon

Steve Cannon photo

Steve Cannon (1935 – July 7, 2019) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and moved to New York City, from London, in 1962.

Cannon was part of the Black Arts Movement, as a literary movement, which has its roots in groups such as the Umbra Workshop. Umbra (1962) which was a collective of young Black writers based in Manhattan’s Lower East Side; major members included Steve Cannon (read Kalamu ya Salam’s article on The Black Arts Movement (BAM)

In the early ’60s, he [Cannon] convened informal discussions about music and literature with writers like Henderson and [Ishmael] Reed and other members of Umbra. In the 1970s, Cannon ran a publishing house with Reed and the poet Joe Johnson that was one of the first independent presses to focus on multicultural literature. —New York Times

The Publishing Company, Reed, Cannon and Johnson published Quincy Troupe. Photo of Steve Canon

In 1990 Cannon was visiting the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe with Hammons when he was inspired to create A Gathering of the Tribes first as a literary magazine to document the vibrant culture that was happening in the Lower East Side. The first issue was published with less than 1,000 copies in 1991 on a Xerox machine.

By 1993 Tribes quickly grew into a salon and non-profit multi-cultural interdisciplinary arts organization run from Canon’s home in the New York City borough of Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood. Cannon wanted it to be a multicultural, multigenerational space for both local and traveling art lovers.

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