On October 30, 1975—a historical pivot point between 1930s film noir and 1990s gangsta rap— Bay Area poet Nashira Priester introduced to San Francisco State University’s (SFSU) Poetry Center audience the city’s latest musical outlaws: the West Coast Gangster Choir, a multi-racial ensemble of vocalists and musicians led by then-emerging poet Jessica Hagedorn. This article chronicles Hagedorn's development as a poet and performer, analyzing the cultural and political work done by the Gangster Choir as a Third World movement with an internationalist perspective on local issues.

This content is only available via PDF.