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.
Dancing to Rock & Roll Poetry: Jessica Hagedorn and the West Coast Gangster Choir
Christine Bacareza Balance is assistant professor of Asian American Studies (UC Irvine). Her writing has been published in Women’s Studies Quarterly (WSQ), Women and Performance, and the Journal of Asian American Studies (JAAS), among others. She is currently writing a book on popular music in post-World War II Filipino America.
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Christine Bacareza Balance; Dancing to Rock & Roll Poetry: Jessica Hagedorn and the West Coast Gangster Choir. Boom 1 July 2013; 3 (2): 72–81. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/boom.2013.3.2.72
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