#writephoto regulars ~ Meet Ken Gierke

I asked the writephoto challenge regulars if they would like to come over and introduce themselves. Today we meet Ken Gierke from rivrvlogr.

Without those of you who write and read the pieces inspired by the weekly photos, the writephoto prompt would not exist. So, if you follow or take part in the weekly challenge, why come over and introduce yourself too?

Being a regular does not mean taking part every week… so why not drop me a line?

Read the responses to Sue’s photo prompts carefully, and you may see a few written by me. For some people, a photograph immediately triggers a story in their mind. Poetry, on the other hand, requires a connection between the photo and the writer’s frame of mind. Yes, I write poetry.

I’ll give you a little background, before I get into where my head is at these days. For the majority of my life, until I was 59, I lived in a suburb of Buffalo, New York. I always lived within three miles of the Niagara River, and for 33 of those years I lived one-quarter mile away from it. I fished, boated, and even spent hundreds of hours underwater. I spent time on the shore making videos, and I sat writing poetry.

I worked as a truck driver and dockworker and was a member of the Teamsters union for 33 years, retiring with a 30 year pension in 2006. I have two points of pride in my life: my 21 years as a union shop steward for up to 80 co-workers, and my three children. My two sons are a computer engineer and an IT specialist for a web hosting firm, and my daughter is grade school counselor. They are the pride of my life.

In 2012, I followed my heart and moved to central Missouri. I miss the scenery of Western New York, and, of course, I miss my children (whom I visit whenever possible), but the love of my life is here. We were married in 2017, and we made a point of having the ceremony close to my children and mutual friends. Our ceremony was held next to the Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie, Pennsylvania. My children live near Cleveland and Buffalo, so Erie’s location half-way between them (100 miles from each) was perfect.

I started writing poetry when I was 40, in the early 1990s. I would write for family and friends, and even fellow workers, concerning special events, accomplishments, and grief. For a while I wrote about tragic events in the news, but I had to discontinue that because it took my mind into some pretty dark places. I don’t mind making observations, but I had to draw the line. I’d rather be upbeat.

I will say this: when I met my wife in 2011, my poetry had a definite uptick. I’ve written well over 100 love poems for her. (Aww, ain’t that sweet?)

When I started my WordPress blog in April 2014, it was to respond to the daily prompts for National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) on a public forum. My overall poetry output had taken a downturn (except for those love poems, of course!), and it seemed like a good way to get motivated. And it was. For a month. Once again, my writing trailed off.
But that was okay, because I also had decided to use the blog to talk about my other interests – vlogging, photography, kayaking, and life in general. Well, that never really developed. Poetry is not the only written word that comes to me in spurts, and I just couldn’t get motivated to write. Period. Oh, I have touched on those topics, now and then, but it seemed like poetry was going to be the main theme of my blog.

Speaking of spurts, if you follow my blog, you may see that my photo blogs occur like that. If I get the bug, I might post two or three of them in a month, then none for a while. And some of them involve kayaking, so I guess I do give both topics some coverage.

While I’m at it. Let me touch on vlogging for a minute. I started posting vlogs (or video blogs) on YouTube in August 2006, back in the days before it was acquired by Google. It had nowhere near the volume of content and views that it has today.

I was drawn to YouTube by a news article about a man in England, Peter Oakley (username, Geriatric1927), who had thousands of people willing to watch an eighty-year-old man talk about his childhood during World War II, and about life in general. I found a nice group of people to communicate with, and became involved in collaborative videos with some. I even made a connection with a poet from New York City, Judith Gerstenblatt, who was writing a book of poetry about John Lennon. She had heard my spoken poetry, and she asked if I would make recordings of the poems in her book. Those ended up as a CD accompanying the book, and one of them still exists on YouTube.

By 2008, I had closed my YouTube account. Trolls were a big problem at the time, and while the previous owners were proactive about addressing issues I was experiencing (some of it very direct and personal – including using my real name as a username for vile and disturbing content) Google ruled there were no violations and stopped responding to my requests for arbitration. A couple of years passed before I opened a new YouTube account. I tried LiveVideo (now defunct) for a while and ended up at another vlogging site (now closed to non-members) with a nice interactive community. At one time, I was making 200-300 vlogs per year! I’m down to one or two per month. I’m better, now. Really!!

So, back to poetry. April 2015 rolled around, and once again I was able to post a poem every day in response to NaPoWriMo. My writing then became sporadic, again. The same for 2016. So, in August I decided to motivate myself by actually following the bloggers/poets that I was following, and it worked. I find inspiration in the words of those poets, as well as from many of the prompts that are available on WordPress.

Poetry continues to be the main focus of my blog. The majority of it always has been free verse, but that seems to have transitioned to Japanese poetry lately, mainly haiku, tanka, and haibun. For that, I blame Chèvrefeuille at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, on blogger/blogspot. He comes up with some great prompts that provide interesting background, making it easy to get into the topic of the day.

As I said earlier, I’ve found some real inspiration from the poets, I follow on WordPress. Some of them are published, which is just as inspiring. I’d like to publish a book or chapbook of poetry. Someday. For now, I’ve had a half-dozen poems featured at various webzines in the past month, with another scheduled for early November.

Oh, and I took time out from creating a photo blog about autumn to write this for Sue, so I still do have a little variety in my blog.

Follow Ken at rivrvlogr

One Island

One Island_2

Two islands.
Your life. Mine.

Time flowing around,
between, shifting them,
until they are one.

Captured in a band
of gold, our life

©Ken Gierke

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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36 Responses to #writephoto regulars ~ Meet Ken Gierke

  1. Lovely to discover more about you, Ken. The poem is wonderful!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jordan says:

    It is delightful to learn more about everyone through Sue’s invite. What a glory filled life you hae, lovely children a d a beautiful wife. I love your poetry and always look forward to reading both new and old time and time again. They have that quality about them. A great stickiness heart quality.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hélène Vaillant says:

    Hello Ken. I’ve always been inspired by your poetry, the first was at Chevrefeuille. Knowing more about you now continues to be inspiring. Your loving poem to your darling and the rings are charming. Enjoy each other, be well.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. rivrvlogr says:

    Reblogged this on rivrvlogr and commented:
    Sue Vincent has kindly allowed me to ramble on as a guest blogger at Daily Echo. Thank you, Sue!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. rivrvlogr says:

    Thank you for this, and all you do, Sue.


  6. You are a superb human being, Ken, and I am better for knowing you and yours.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Ritu says:

    Lovely to read more about you Ken, and that poem is absolutely beautiful and heartfelt 💜

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Lovey to learn more about you Ken. I love your poetry, You and Erie make a lovely couple.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. willowdot21 says:

    Hi Ken it’s great to learn more about you. I wish you , your wife and family all the very best.iam a poetry fanatic well. 💜

    Liked by 2 people

  10. janmalique says:

    Great to hear more about you Ken. What an interesting journey on all counts.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Awww. 100 love poems! No wonder she married you, Ken. Fun to learn more about you after reading so many of your poems. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  12. rivrvlogr says:

    After I moved 900 miles, she probably felt bad more me. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. merrildsmith says:

    It’s fun to read more about you, Ken. You mentioned some of it in other posts, but I didn’t know about the vlogging or all the attempts to keep the momentum with poetry writing. Beautiful poem! (Awwwwww!) 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I love your poetry and especially the turn it has taken, that you mention, regarding Japanese poetry, haiku and etc. Now I know more about you from this post and I love seeing how all the influences in your life come together in your writing. Thanks for sharing all of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. memadtwo says:

    This is great Ken. The back and forth in this community is a big source of support and inspiration.
    And you do write the best love poems. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  16. rothpoetry says:

    This was a great piece. Congratulations Ken on your recent marriage. I enjoy your poetry! Keep it up!


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