Podcast: “James Baldwin: The Magpie Years” Is A Journey Through Baldwin’s Days As A Teenage Prodigy In NYC


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.

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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. 

Listen to The Magpies Years via Apple Podcasts or Spotify Podcasts.

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Ayanna Nicole

Hi! I’m Ayanna, a writer and artist. Although I graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with two degrees in art and psychology, I’ve had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember. By following my dreams and utilizing my creativity, I designed Jaro Magazine with the ultimate intention of bringing more positive stories in the black community to the forefront, while also highlighting our versatile and vibrant culture through Jaro’s four modes: film, books, art, and music. I also manage a book hub, which you can find on Instagram @bloomingliterature.

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