De-Canon: A Visibility Project is a “pop-up library” and web resource project that will showcase literary art by writers/artists of color. Our goal is to put forth an alternative literary “canon” — or multiple canons — that are inclusive, diverse, and multi-storied in their approach to representation. De-Canon wishes to challenge existing ideas of what constitutes the North American literary canon, especially in our current culture.

The De-Canon will consist of, in truth, multiple mini-canons with no central reference point —except that all works we talk about will be by artists and writers of color. It will include poetry, prose, hybrid forms, theory, criticism, and texts of literary-visual nature. These lists of works will be crowdsourced from writers, artists and readers of color, locally and nationally. Our goal is to create a forum in which many voices contribute to the defining–or un-defining–of the literary canon: this is in effect our de-canonizing experiment.

De-Canon will also act as a web-hub for information on specific texts and authors, events, and unique dialogues in which writers of color elaborate on topics such as their personal


“de-canons”, their experiences with (or in opposition to) the dominant canon, and the positing of a more crucial and useful living canon – ever-shifting and ‘of the moment’.

De-Canon will manifest in varied locations and formats throughout 2017. Lectures, interviews, discussion groups, performances and readings, blog posts, essays, and audio podcasts will serve to explore and disseminate the idea of “de-canonizing.” We will also curate a physical “pop-up library” of essential works by writers of color, to appear in several locations yet to be determined. Our physical space events will be an opportunity to showcase local Portland-area writers and artists of color, and to foster community, visibility, and articulation.

De-Canon is a literary arts project directed by writers Dao Strom and Neil Aitken and funded by the Precipice Fund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the Calligram Foundation. 




We are crowdsourcing lists of books from which to curate our first De-Canon library collection. We are prioritizing texts and authors of color from or published in the Pacific Northwest, as well as works by national authors, living and dead. We would love to hear about what you are reading, and which books have influenced you — please share with us here.