2016 Village Award Winner: Steve Cannon
Off the Grid is highlighting the 2016 Village Awards winners in the lead up to the June 14th Annual Meeting & Award Ceremony. Click here for more information about the event and to RSVP. Read about other awardees here. Today we look at Steve Cannon, poet and “keeper of the multicultural flame and flavor of downtown Bohemia” since the early 1960’s.
Originally hailing from New Orleans and the youngest of 8 children, the now 81 year old Cannon has experienced many lives and adventures. Influenced by his family’s penchant for storytelling, recitation, and music, he has always pursued writing and cultural endeavors. When he arrived in New York City in the early 1960’s, his only interest was becoming part of the downtown scene where writers, artists, musicians, dancers, photographers and many others expressing their artistic visions could gather and exchange ideas. He has lived in the East Village ever since, over the years mixing with such legendary figures as Norman Mailer, Miles Davis, Cecil Taylor, Leonard Bernstein, Charlie Parker, LeRoi Jones, George Corso, Allen Ginsberg, David Henderson, Henry Threadgill, and EL Doctorow.
Steve Cannon has been instrumental in the founding of many of the Lower East Side’s and East Village’s cultural institutions such as the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, the Lower East Side Arts Festival, the Howl Festival (of which he is the is Poet Laureate), and the Nuyorican Poets Café.
Cannon is also well known as the founder of The Gathering of the Tribes in his former apartment, gallery and gathering space on 3rd Street and Avenue D in an historic Greek Revival house built by the founder of The Nation magazine, Hamilton Fish. As their website states: Tribes was conceived as a venue for underexposed artists, as well as a networking center and locus for the development of new talent. The formation of Tribes was motivated by the thriving artistic community in and around the Lower East Side: poetry at The Nuyorican Poets Café; performances and plays at the Living Theater; activist art at Bullet Space; as well as hundreds of artists trying to find and develop a voice in their medium and a place in which their work might be appreciated. Cannon is currently working on publishing a Tribes Anthology, and will be the focus on an upcoming PBS documentary.
Village Preservation is honored to present Steve Cannon with a 2016 Village Award. Please join us as we honor him on June 14th.
One response to “2016 Village Award Winner: Steve Cannon”
Interesting piece about an interesting person. One detail, however, is confusing. You write that Cannon “arrived in New York City in the early 1960’s [and] has lived in the East Village ever since, over the years mixing with such legendary figures as… Charlie Parker.” Bird died early in 1955; conversation between Cannon and Parker in the early 1960’s would’ve been a bit one-sided. Had Cannon visited NYC in the early- to mid-1950’s?