All Violet

By Rani Rivera

Categories: Poetry
Imprint: Dagger Editions
Paperback : 9781987915556, 88 pages, September 2017


The posthumous poetry journal of Rani Rivera, Toronto's champion of mental health advocacy and harm reduction. In All Violet, a young woman chronicles the experience of living on the margins, in spaces and places where body and mind are flayed by guilt, disappointments and betrayals. Her poems record the shattering trauma of struggling to survive through periods of doubt, fear, rage and pain, creating a narrative of disconnection, indignation, alienation and emptiness, the extremes of suffering and desperation. Employing lyrical free verse, Rani Rivera has skillfully employed the short line to pinpoint moments of acute perception. Unadorned, taut and precise cries of pain, loss and fury draw the reader deeper and deeper inside this in-your-face confrontation with a dark world of foreboding alleviated by flashes of mordant wit and grace under fire.


"A star student and sweet friend, Rani's death hurts in a way only she could describe with beauty and grace: 'I love them pretty/with their ugliness./ I love them all violet/and blue.' Her love for the world courses through this powerful collection like a clean, clear river, bathing and purifying the filth and the pain she delineates with a razor, her uncanny mind. New to most of these poems, I want to praise and praise her, and instead, say goodbye again, knowing she has left behind a stunning legacy, one that will be returned to, repeatedly, by anyone who knows, to quote Theodore Roethke, 'the purity of pure despair.' To anyone who knows that life is very hard; that the divine is always near. All night as she turned violet and blue, betrayed by the Earth's roll into darkness, leaving behind fields of flowers, bigger than oceans, and kindness, and love. The great poet Patria Rivera tells me today that Onegin was with her and Joe, Rani's mother and father, that dreadful night. How like her to protect him, a brave act like All Violet, how brave I mean, to know and love and make such beauty. How terrible, Rani, come on be alive again, to know it, and still, to leave; still, her words shine so brightly, like the light she now emanates; that is, the living light of a dead star."

--Lynn Crosbie writer, professor and author of The Corpses of the Future

“This is a collection of honest self-exploration that leaves the reader with an understanding of both the speaker and themselves. It illustrates the importance of human connection in a harsh world, the need to hold and be held, to suffer and succeed. All Violet clings to the skin long after the final poem and lingers as a testament to the life of Rani Rivera; a glimpse at who she was, and all that she may have become.”

The Malahat Review

“I loved the feel of Rivera’s words. Her poems are the kind that occasionally alluded me as to what exactly they were ‘about,’ but they were also often the kind of poems where I didn’t care whether I understood what was happening because I was so enamoured with the language […] You should get this poetry collection, and get it now.”

—Casey the Lesbrarian