Sunday, August 9, 2015


Great news! Five of my poems have been published in the brand-new online magazine, The Syzygy Poetry Journal, a new star in the literary galaxy.

There's an excellent interview with Kelly Cherry, the inaugural issue's Syzygyan Poet. Cherry says, "Chaos permits creativity. It gives us a space in which to make mistakes . . . essential in science and in art. Chaos lets seedlings – and that's a metaphor – grow where they will." Yes, indeed. Refreshing to find a poet who incorporates chaos into her sense of order.

And there are many, MANY fine poets and poems. Congrats to The Syzygy Poetry Journal for an auspicious beginning.

Click on the screencap image above to go straight to my poems, if you like, but be sure to browse this fine issue and enjoy the wonderful views and writing.

Friends, won't you comment, please? Love to know what you're thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don't find the word "comments" in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Phone Booth? More Little Free Libraries in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Wait, is that a phone booth over there? You sure don't see too many phone booths around these days. Nope, it's a Little Free Library!

As you may know, I've been exploring the Little Free Libraries in my area. In my previous post, a few days ago, I gave a virtual tour of the Little Free Libraries of Waterloo, Iowa, our neighboring "big city."

And the time before that, I did the same with my city, Cedar Falls. The big highlight of that tour, according to the Facebook response, was the Little Free Library north of town that looked like a miniature TARDIS from Doctor Who.

Well, it seems that there are yet more local LFLs! I found three more in Cedar Falls, and Jeremy Prouty, the Waterloo middle school teacher whose students built six LFLs — story here — will let me know as those six are installed around Waterloo and on the University of Northern Iowa campus in the next few weeks. Exciting stuff!

Okay, let's get on to today's topic, visiting MORE Little Free Libraries in Cedar Falls.

The only LFL featured in the city's official website is in Neighbors Park in the North Cedar area. It's a repurposed phone booth in the corner of the park's picnic structure, as seen in the top right picture below (circled in yellow). At the bottom right picture, you can see that someone (the steward of this LFL?) has a delightful sense of humor: there's a phone book in this not-a-phone-booth phone booth! Fun.
Neighbors Park at 2200 Center Street
(At the corner of Cedar Street)

The second LFL of the day is a cheery blue box decorated with whimsical rune-like symbols. Beside the box the steward of this LFL has provided seats: a dark blue folding chair and a sturdy dining chair painted in many bright colors. A very welcoming set-up!
1610 Starbeck Circle
(off Panther Lane)

The last LFL for today is, I believe, the oldest one in the city. In the official LFL directory at LFL headquarters, the description of this LFL says that there are no others in Cedar Falls. Also, it doesn't look like a miniature house, as LFLs often look. It's made of a small packing crate turned on its side, with plexiglass walls installed inside. You can see pretty clearly the sides of the packing crate in the top right picture below.

Also unlike the usual LFL, this library is attached to a tree and not mounted on a pole. This is quite unusual in this area; of the thirteen LFLs I've visited in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls metro area, this is the only one that's mounted onto a tree.

Anyway, this "grandfather" of an LFL is pretty charming. Go to Garden Ave. and check it out.
2424 Garden Avenue
(between Rainbow Drive and Cottonwood Avenue)

Okay, that makes nine Little Free Libraries in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Sometime soon, there will be a tenth one on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa. The installation of this new LFL has been delayed by construction nearby. I hope it will go up before too long. When it does, I'll let you know.

Friends, won't you comment, please? Love to know what you're thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don't find the word "comments" in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Take a Book, Return a Book: Little Free Libraries in Waterloo, Iowa

Last time, I gave you a tour of Little Free Libraries in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Today, let's visit the Little Free Libraries in the city next door: Waterloo.

The Little Free Library worldwide movement champions literacy and the love of books and reading. Each LFL is, according to the HQ website, "a 'take a book, return a book' gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share." As we saw last time, my own city of Cedar Falls has an interesting assortment of LFLs, particularly the one that looks like a small TARDIS from the TV show Doctor Who.

Okay, let's get started checking out the Little Free Libraries of Waterloo, shall we? To see any picture larger, just click on it.

This first Waterloo LFL is no-frills, for sure. This is a pretty new library; a placque on the door says that it was started in April 2015, just three months ago. One thing that sets this apart from other LFLs is that it has no window. Which could be a blessing because it keeps the books inside from fading because of the sun. Another thing I like about this LFL is how it was designed to look just like the LFL steward's house. Both of the houses — the big one and the little one — are painted the same shade of maroon and are roofed with gray shingles. Cool, huh?
1929 Baltimore Street
(at corner with Easton Avenue)


Second, in a tree-shaded neighborhood — which was a relief because it was darn HOT when I was on my LFL quest yesterday! — is this LFL also painted maroon. This library has the usual front window. Very handsome.
709 Magnolia Parkway
(between Bismark Avenue and Rock Island Avenue)


The third one is in a suburban setting. The guy next door was meticulously mowing his lawn with a riding mower. Hey, I should have gotten him in these photos!  This LFL is brightly painted red, blue, and yellow. Cool idea I haven't seen in an LFL before: the steward of this library has included an equally colorful bound journal marked "Leave a note!" Nice cheerful greetings from neighborhood folks thanking the steward for their LFL.
4750 Clover Lane
(between Country Lane and Mary Ellen Drive)


The fourth LFL I visited yesterday is in a forested area near Rainbow Drive. The stewards of this library have made some cool innovations. As with the Clover Lane LFL, there's a bound journal for people to leave greetings. Very cool, though, there's also a little plastic container of dog treats. There's a stack of bright, colorful bookmarks — that's a very nice touch. There are several copies of the Cedar Valley Trails and Recreation Guide, a fold-up map. And there's a stick-up little light for night visitors. You can see all of these in the picture on the right below.
2035 Grand Boulevard
(between Niagara Drive and Four Seasons Drive)


There was one library I couldn't find. According to the LFL website, there should have been a library in downtown Waterloo, at 505 Walnut Street. I suspect this LFL may no longer exist. However, it may have been moved inside somewhere nearby. On Monday, I'll make some inquiries. Faith Temple Baptist Church is right there and may now have the LFL. The Boys and Girls Club is just down the street, too; they might have the library in their building. So stay tuned, okay? Check back the next day or so, please.

Okay, that's the end of our Waterloo LFL tour. For now. Hope you've enjoyed it. Why don't you visit one (or all!) of these LFLs? Bring a book or two to leave. And take a book to read.

Oh, one more thing: earlier this year, students from Waterloo's Hoover Middle School built some LFLs and are looking for stewards to install them in Waterloo neighborhoods. Here's a newspaper article about this story. Pretty exciting. Congrats to the students and to their teacher, Jeremy Prouty. If you are interested in becoming a steward of one of these LFLs or would just like more detail about this project, visit their website, H.E.L.P. LFL.
Added 20 July 2015: I found out today that the Hoover students' LFLs have all been assigned to stewards already. So, do not apply for one at the H.E.L.P LFL website.

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Ingat, everyone.   

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Tiny TARDIS and More: Little Free Libraries in Cedar Falls

Do you know what a Little Free Library is? It's a really fun thing!

Little Free Libraries (LFLs) are grassroots collections of books and other reading material accessible to everyone, maintained by citizens and sometimes nonprofit groups. The Little Free Libraries are generally little "buildings," so to speak, like outdoor dollhouses, out in neighborhoods where anyone can walk up and borrow or drop off something to read. In an honor system, borrowers bring back books or bring new books or bring them to other LFLs. (Check out the LFL website.)

I just love the idea of the Little Free Library, helping to boost literacy and the love of reading in our neighborhoods! I bet you have one or more LFLs in your area. Here in Cedar Falls, Iowa, we have six. Well, five, actually. (That will become clear later.)

Shall we go on a tour?

Right outside of Cedar Falls, to the north a couple miles, there's an LFL that's memorable because it looks like the TARDIS from Doctor Who. That's the time machine / space ship of The Doctor . . . uh, just google. Wait, click here. Anyway, it's a very cool LFL made from a newspaper vending machine. Here, take a look.

8227 Buckridge Road


This next LFL is, like the last, also out in the country. It looks like a high-end log cabin with a fancy green front door that has a picture window in it.

2126 West Lone Tree Road


In the middle of town, this next LFL is the first one I ever saw. I was out for a walk and saw what looked like a little blue house on a short pole, in a sleepy neighborhood not too far from downtown. When I looked inside it, I was amazed to see it contained books. And right next to it, a park bench. So cool.

823 West 8th Street
at College Street

I saw that this 8th Street LFL had a plaque on it, with an internet address. When I checked that website later, I found out there's a huge network of thousands of these libraries. The website features a map and photos of all the LFLs. I quickly located the other ones in my town.

This next LFL is a block away from the high school. I wonder how many students walking home have noticed it and stopped to borrow books. I certainly hope they have.

1203 West 12th Street
near Division Street


In the bottom picture above, you can see the cover of a book I borrowed from the 12th Street LFL, The Girl Who Became a Beatle by Greg Taylor. With my interest in rock & roll and pop culture, I really enjoyed this fun YA novel. The front cover is very cleverly designed; the characters from the novel are posed and lit like the Fab Four on the cover of their LP Meet the Beatles.

This next LFL is a different type. As you can see below, it's very close to the ground. In fact it rests on the ground. It is on the grounds of the Cedar Valley Preschool and Child Care Center. It's a library of books for the children of the center. It's a little different from other LFLs because it's not accessible to the public. The cool thing about it is that these kids learn about libraries and the fact that libraries have books just for them!

724 Lantz Ave
at Fern Ave

This last one is technically not an official Little Free Library because it is not registered with LFL Central. But it works exactly the same way. It's a bright purple color, which helped me spot it when I was driving through the neighborhood. It features not just books but also magazines and CDs. Very cool. Architecturally, this little "building" is distinctive because it has clerestory windows that help to light up the inside of the library.

2219 Sunset Blvd
between Willow Lane and Rownd Street

I hope the people who run this last free library will register it with Little Free Library HQ. That way, their library will be listed on the website and also appear on the LFL map. And anyone around the world can find them by address.
Added 19 July 2015: I saw today
that this library is now a registered LFL.
Congrats to the stewards of this LFL.
Well, that's our tour of Cedar Falls Little Free Libraries. Hope you enjoyed that. If you live nearby, check out one — or all (!) — of the local LFLs. Take a book, leave a book, enjoy!

Friends, won't you comment, please? Love to know what you're thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don't find the word "comments" in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Help Amanda Gotera Bring "Middle Witch" to Life

Hello, everyone. Have you recovered from National Poetry Month? And Cinco de Mayo?   

A little over a half a year ago, I blogged about my daughter Amanda Blue Gotera, who is working on her MFA in filmmaking at the University of Texas, receiving a prestigious film award to support the completion of her thesis film, Middle Witch. In her application for that Princess Grace Foundation award, she wrote, "I intend to tell a fairy story that keeps its teeth sharp and features heroines who are neither charming nor easily digestible but human and messy and dark."

Well, that fairy tale with "its teeth sharp" is about to start shooting, and you can help make Amanda's dream come true. She and her crew have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the rest of the funds they need to complete the film:

Would you please click the image above to go to the Kickstarter page and watch the pitch video? It's a really wonderful pitch (yeah yeah, proud dad talking . . . but actually it is). As you can see from the image above (which I pulled off a few minutes ago), they're almost 50% funded just a week into the campaign. And Middle Witch has been chosen as a Kickstarter Staff Pick. Could you donate to keep the momentum going and bring Middle Witch to the big screen? Even five bucks will help!

You can also go to the Middle Witch facebook page at to keep up with news about the campaign as well as the progress of the film. (You can see this page even if you are not a member of facebook, but you can't interact with it.)

Friends, won't you comment, please? Love to know what you're thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don't find the word "comments" in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   

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