Ricardo Wilson on the Importance of Interrogating Research
This Week from The Common Podcast
Ricardo Wilson speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his poem, “nigrescence,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Ricardo talks about his new collection Apparent Horizon and Other Stories, winner of the PANK Book Contest in fiction. The collection includes several short poetic fragments scattered amongst stories and novellas, with both historic and contemporary storylines. He discusses his process for writing from historical research, and what it’s like writing creative and critical work at the same time. Ricardo also talks about Outpost, a fully-funded residency in Vermont for creative writers of color from the US and Latin America. Find out more about Outpost here, and apply by November 1.
On advice for researching historical writing:
Having a bad memory is a great thing for historical research. For me, it was really helpful to immerse myself in research—I read and read and read and surrounded myself with it, and then let it put me in the zone. And I gave myself liberty to roll from there. My advice for researching is the same for any story, really. The most important thing is to interrogate what you’re drawn to, and return to and develop that answer with as much nuance as possible.
On teaching The Common magazine in his creative writing class:
For me, teaching a lit mag demystifies the writing process for students. They’re able to meet an editor, and talk through their approach to a piece, talk through the shaping of a journal. I think too many young writers don’t have the time or don’t understand the value in evaluating a journal itself. We’ll be able to do that in the context of a class; we’ll be reading from this issue for over a month before the editor visits the class. I’m really excited for that—to get them to understand the submission process, what the human being on the other end looks like, and how they go about that business.
Ricardo Wilson is an assistant professor of English at Williams College and the author of An Apparent Horizon and Other Stories and The Nigrescent Beyond: Mexico, the United States, and the Psychic Vanishing of Blackness. His fiction and critical writing can be found in 3:AM Magazine, Black Renaissance / Renaissance Noire, Callaloo, CR: The New Centennial Review, Crazyhorse, and Stirring. He is director of Outpost, a residency for creative writers of color from the United States and Latin America. Follow him on Twitter @ricardoawilson.
Emily Everett is managing editor of The Common Magazine and host of the magazine’s podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House, Online, and The Mississippi Review. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily.