Praise for RAM:
“RAM is not a project of soft void in its original premise of erasure, but a powerfully-written creation always already in full throttle. Defying premises that gender is ignored in classical texts, ari k. castañeda shows readers how its liminal functions span from margin to core. Here, Aeneid is no longer a myth confined to the cerebral, but a manifesto of unabashed embodiment.”
-Stephanie Kaylor, managing editor of Five:2:One Magazine
“I became so immersed in ram’s story that I began not only to feel empathy for the character but to feel that I was the character, such is the transformative power of castañeda’s writing. Who wouldn’t want to be the force behind the statement, “I’m woman / I plough men / I steel love” and “if heaven exists then it is a field of orgasms?” This is not only a violent reclaiming of woman’s sexuality but a forging of non-binary desire, the wailing of “a body girled then ungirled.” The language revealed by castañeda’s erasures is brimming with “love and black art,” and it is no wonder that “THE CHORUS asks / Didn’t she burn up her / menfolk?” She most certainly did, and we are all here to bear witness. Even the men are in awe.”
-Isobel O’Hare, editor of Dream Pop Press
“ari k. castañeda’s RAM is an otherworldly book. A “a feminist erasure of Vergil’s Aeneid,” it harnesses the liminalities inherent in the media of translation and erasure poetry to create something that is not entirely a translation, nor yet entirely an erasure. As an erasure of a translation of the Aeneid, it straddles many already tenuous boundaries, such as gender, originality, and a familiar story, to create beauty. We are quickly introduced to a new character, Ram, who uses the found text, Frederick Ahl’s Aeneid translation, to sing, not of arms and man, but “of seahorse” and “a land home to rams”. This breaks open the familiar story and uses its pieces to create something new. A handful of the poems in the collection show us castañeda’s thought-process, these poems, all untitled, consist of a line or lines of Latin, treated as material for an erasure poem, and then its translation. By perusing this series of poems in the collection, we might, as bilingual readers, wonder how a language with case markers whose word order is quite free, can be translated, erasured, or both, into one where not case, but word order makes meaning; yet, castañeda’s sure hand ensures that we don’t need to know Latin in order to enjoy, appreciate, and marvel at the craft of RAM.”
-Jordi Alonso, author of HoneyVoiced
“With the Aeneid, Virgil intended to alchemize a distinctly Latin myth by magnifying a minor character from Homer’s Greek poem, the Iliad. In a way, translation begins from a need to (re)create one’s own identity or origin story. ari k. castañeda understands too well that translation isn’t simply what we etymologically understand as a reposition of materials through time and space; instead, what RAM reveals is that series of transformations that occur, at least linguistically, when people are silenced, displaced, disembodied, and subcategorized. The character of ram is distilment but also recuperation. RAM is about the history of violence in our canon, about men furnishing patriarchal myths at the cost of misjudging the lives that stand in their way. But like the saga of a word like queer, ram fights back. “but ram doesn’t wanna,” we’re told. “ram eats things to see what’s inside them…ram pushes herself up from horse corpse w bloodied hooves.” This is decadent poetry. This is powerfully articulated feminist poetry. When ram says, “finally, all my pain walks w joy,” I think of Plath, Sarah Kane, Audre Lorde. I believe ram. I believe ram.”
-Roy G. Guzmán, author of Restored Mural for Orlando
read the Pushcart Prize nominated excerpt in Crab Fat Magazine.
RAM is a 2018 Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry nominee.