This site was born out of early rail writings on Amtrak in June of 1999. Since then, a lot has changed. really got rolling in early ’02 while in New Orleans working on Mardi Gras floats with artist Julian Stock. I posted almost daily rants then. The next couple of years were great creatively. Then in late 2003 the first in a string of suicides & other premature death among friends hit hard. So I went for a hike. Two years later I published Dead Men Hike No Trails. It’s a great story about a guy who pulls himself out of the depths of depression by walking 2000 miles in the mountains of Appalachia. Alas, just weeks after the book came out in January 2006, another friend died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Her suicide, the third in three years, unhinged me. I flipped out, lost a whole year. The book suffered, getting no promotion whatsoever in its first year.

Years passed. I kept writing but I drank more and got heavily addicted to the sedative clonazepam. The explosion of blogs intimidated me, exacerbating the melancholic malaise, and I nearly quit publishing altogether. In 2009 we lost Tom Kennedy, a legend and a great friend. In 2010, after a 900-mile failed bid to repeat & reclaim the natural high of my first epic hike, this time on the Pacific Crest, I surrendered to the inevitable. I remember telling my cousin, “Hunter Thompson’s dead. We lost.” On Thanksgiving at filmmaker Les Blank’s home in Berkeley, I said no to a beer for the last time. Six grueling months later, I emerged alive and mostly sane from a self-imposed, therapist-guided withdrawal from 6 mg/day of doctor prescribed clonazepam. That’s enough sedative to knock out a family of four for a good 24 hours. Beware of that evil shit.

Hard to believe now, but in the middle of that drug-withdrawl, I rafted the entire Grand Canyon, 150 rapids spread over 280 miles. I will never win an Olympic medal, but I’ll grant myself an immodest moment to say that I am an Olympian of some kind, made of tough survival stuff. I’ve been totally sober now since July 2011, not a pill, not a joint, not a drop of booze. In the ensuing years everything has changed. I’m writing again with a focus like never before and gearing up to release a lot of the work I’ve been sitting on for years. Already I’ve posted dozens of poems that have never seen the light of day. If you’ve been a fan of my work in the past, get excited. I just finished a 22,000 word prose poetry manifesto, the likes of which no one’s ever seen.

Stay tuned and thanks for keeping the faith. – Rick McKinney

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