James Baldwin: The Magpie Years, 1940-1942 is a newly released podcast that takes listeners through James Baldwin’s early days as a teenage prodigy at NYC’s renowned DeWitt Clinton High School.
The Magpie was a journal created by students, including Baldwin, at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. It offered a portrait of New York student life during the Great Depression.
Co-hosted by NYC-based podcast creator Aldo B. Martin and Harlem-based English Professor Frank Leon Roberts, the podcast is a comprehensive analysis that incorporates casual conversation with absorbing audio performances that feature rare and never-before-recorded work by teenage Baldwin.
“Insightful, conversational, and accessible–James Baldwin: The Magpie Years will appeal to anyone with a love for James Baldwin, New York City, or the power of literature,” reads the synopsis.
Two episodes are currently available to stream now. Chapter one, Peace on Earth, tells the first story that 15-year-old Baldwin writes in the Magpie. “It’s a story about four friends entrenched in a fox hole, in the middle of an unnamed war. Professor Roberts points out how the themes of inter-ethnic friendships and collaborations stand out to him in this story. He also suggests that the story is about Americans abroad; a theme that would follow Baldwin into adulthood. All the while, he and Aldo discuss how the themes of religion, friendship, and a global outlook are interwoven into this story.“
In chapter two, Discovery, Dr. Roberts and Aldo B. Martin recount the stories of how they first became acquainted with Baldwin’s work.
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