Steve Cannon (writer)

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Steve Cannon
Born 1935
New Orleans, Louisiana
Occupation Novelist
Genre Fiction, African-American literature

Steve Cannon (born 1935) is an American writer and the founder of the cultural organization "A Gathering of the Tribes".[1]

Early life[edit]

Cannon was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and moved to New York City in 1962.[1]

Career[edit]

During the civil rights era, he was a member of the Society of Umbra, a collective of Black writers.[1]

Cannon taught humanities at Medgar Evers College, helping to integrate the public school system in New York.[1]

In 1969 Cannon penned the novel "Groove, Bang, and Jive Around", which author Ismael Reed called the precursor to rap and author Darius James called in the New York Press "an underground classic of such legendary stature that New York's black cognoscenti have transformed the work into an urban myth."[1][2][3]

Cannon, along with Joe Johnson and Ismael Reed, began an independent publishing house that focused on multicultural literature in the 1970s called "Reed, Cannon and Johnson." [1][4] In 1973 he also collaborated with Reed to interview the first Black sci-fi writer, George S. Schuyler, for Yardbird II, Reed's own publication.[5]

Cannon met his friend, artist David Hammons on a park bench in the 1970s. The two have collaborated on certain works including Invisible Paintings where he traced Cannon's painting collection with pencil and then removed the physical works. Hammons once bottled Cannon's voice speaking poems. Cannon has written poems about Hammons work and made public appearances for him.[1]

Cannon was mentor to many writers including Eileen Myles and Paul Beatty.[1] In 2013 he was featured with curator Lydia Y. Nichols in an artist talk about Black bodies and migration for Curator's International.[6]

A Gathering of Tribes[edit]

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 1000 copies in 1991 on a Xerox machine.[1]

By 1993 Tribes quickly grew into a salon and non-profit multi-cultural interdisciplinary arts organization run from his 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.[7][8] The collective also hosted a gallery and performance space where numerous exhibitions and concerts have taken place, supporting and inspiring many notable artists and musicians such as the Sun Ra Arkestra (1995), David Henderson, Chavisa Woods, John Farris, Bob Holman, Ishmael Reed, Billy Bang, Max Blagg and David Hammons.[1][7]

One of Cannon's exhibitions at Tribes Gallery he titled "Exquisite Poop" was inspired by his own relationship with visual art as a blind person. A painter included in the exhibition would describe a piece to participating writers, who would then describe the painting for a different painter who would in turn paint it.[8]

In April 2014 both the organization and Cannon were forced to relocate and the gallery permanently shut when the occupancy agreement they had with the woman to whom the building had previously been sold, Lorraine Zhang, ended. Simultaneously a wall which retained some of an art-piece by David Hammons (which had previously been sold to an art collector after having been reproduced and the originality of the object transferred) was removed and relocated by the organization and replaced by another minus the pedigree adornment.[9][10]

Tribes magazine began publishing online and Cannon published an anthology in hard copy in 2017.[1]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cannon, Steve (1969). Groove, bang, and jive around. London: Genesis. ISBN 1885478534. OCLC 50876304. 
  • Cannon, Steve, ed. (1974). Jambalaya:Four Poets. New York: Reed, Cannon & Johnson. ASIN B0047XO228. OCLC 79642034. 
  • Cannon, Steve (1983). Jus' jass : correlations of painting and Afro-American classical music. New York, NY: Kenkeleba Gallery. OCLC 26798342. 
  • Cannon, Steve; Jones, Kellie; Finkelpearl, Tom (1991). David Hammons rousing the rubble. Boston, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 0262031841. 
  • Cannon, Steve; Bowling, Frank; McEvilley, Thomas (1991). The search for freedom : African-American abstract paintings, 1945-1975. New York, NY: Kenkeleba Gallery. OCLC 698576786. 

Personal life[edit]

Cannon's signature look includes wearing sunglasses indoors because has been completely blind since 1989 from glaucoma.[8][1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Miller, M. H. (2018-02-09). "A Blind Publisher, Poet — and Link to the Lower East Side's Cultural History". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-11. 
  2. ^ "Groove Bang and Jive Around » The Liberator Magazine". weblog.liberatormagazine.com. Retrieved 2015-09-22. 
  3. ^ Cannon, S.; Brusselbach, J. (1969). Groove, Bang, and Jive Around. Fly By Night Press. ISBN 9780963740533. Retrieved 2015-09-22. 
  4. ^ "Joe Johnson". The Center for the Humanities. Retrieved 2018-02-14. 
  5. ^ Schuyler, George Samuel (2001). Rac(e)ing to the Right: Selected Essays of George S. Schuyler. Univ. of Tennessee Press. ISBN 9781572331181. 
  6. ^ "Blindman Draws Lines: A Conversation with Steve Cannon - Events - Independent Curators International". curatorsintl.org. Retrieved 2018-02-14. 
  7. ^ a b Reed, I.; Dick, B.; Singh, A. (1995). Conversations with Ishmael Reed. University Press of Mississippi. p. 361. ISBN 9780878058150. Retrieved 2015-09-22. 
  8. ^ a b c "Blindness, Memory, and the Vestiges of Anarchy". Hyperallergic. 2013-05-17. Retrieved 2018-02-12. 
  9. ^ "The New York Times". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2015-09-22. 
  10. ^ "Steve Cannon has left the building, but takes a piece of it | The Villager Newspaper". thevillager.com. Retrieved 2018-02-14. 

External links[edit]