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Gathering of the Tribes - Endangered Tribe Saved from Extinction

Steve Cannon sits and listens to the poets pay homage to him
Steve Cannon sits and listens to the poets pay homage to himLisa DuBois news photos ©

A few weeks ago, I sat with Art Guru Steve Cannon on his beloved couch in his Lower East Side Studio Gallery, home of the nonprofit community-based art organization, A Gathering of the Tribes. I watched him smoke his Native American cigarettes and flick the ashes into the ashtray with precision in spite of the fact that Steve is blind due to glaucoma since 1979.

Steve smokes his last cigarette in front of the David Hammon wall before it is disassembled.
Steve smokes his last cigarette in front of the David Hammon wall before it is disassembled.Lisa DuBois news photos

Steve was counting down the days when he would have to leave his studio, because of legal technicalities concerning his lease. This Lower East Side studio was the refuge that Steve created for scores of poets, writers, musicians, artists and photographers. This was where the Tribes gathered.

Steve reminisced about the days back in 1989 when he started his organization. His relaxed demeanor was a contrast to the many artists and poets who constantly buzzed around him. To the present day, the community of young and old artists depends on Steve to be there for them to listen their woes and to seek his advice. I had the impression at the time that Steve was more concerned about losing the exhibition space for the artists than he was concerned about himself.

Since the day of the interview, Steve moved to his new address, where he acclimated himself quickly and where he will resume mentoring poets and artists, as well as continue publishing poetry through his Tribes publishing arm Fly By Night Press. Steve plans to stay involved in the community and will continue hosting events and exhibitions sponsored by other galleries.

A major benefit was held for Steve at the Nuyorican Poets’ Café this past April 23rd. Hundreds of people packed the Lower East Side cultural institution to read poetry as a tribute to their beloved Steve.

To date, there will be a release party for the 14th issue of Tribes Magazine—another arm of the Tribes art organization—at the nearby Bowery Poetry Club this Saturday, May 3rd; doors open from 12:00 Noon to 2:30PM. Come and be part of the launch for the new issue filled with art, short stories and poetry.

Steve Cannon has been named a “Lower East Side Community Hero" .The presentation ceremony is May 4th at 2:00pm outdoors, at Pier 42 in East River Park as part of the kickoff events for the inaugural Lower East Side History Month this May.

Steve , the Writer, Poet, Playwright, and Art Guru—has been named 2014’s Poet Laureate of the Lower East Side (PLOTLES). Cannon will be featured at the signature Allen Ginsberg Poetry Reading that opens the HOWL! Festival on Friday, MAY 30. HOWL! Festival will take place in Tompkins Square Park Fri-Sun, May 30, 31 and June 1, 2014. Visit

Donations can be made by going to Gathering of the Tribes

If you would like to contact Steve call 212-777-2038 cell - 917-541-9467.