Introducing the Culinary Saijiki

As they say in the current parlance, it’s been a minute. Last summer, after the writing intensive I was part of wrapped up, I just felt a need to stop. Stop pushing, stop trying so hard. Just be quiet and see what happens.

And quite a bit happened. I earned my Level 1 comprehensive teacher certification from Peak Pilates. In the interest of diversifying my skill set, I also got a certification from POP Pilates. (So much for doing less . . .) In February, I started teaching Pilates part-time on the regular. And the biggest change is that my partner and I decided to leave Austin and move to St. Louis, Missouri. As of this writing, I’ll only be in town for about six more weeks, and I’m doing my best to soak up everything I love about Texas.

While I was excited to focus on my movement practice after spending so much time on writing, and while I am also looking forward to a new city, my poetry life had gotten a little stagnant. I was still writing, submitting, and publishing haiku, and became an active member of the Austin Haiku Study Group. But I was looking for more.

Cornmeal whole-wheat waffles. Definitely poetry-worthy.

About a month ago, my waiting paid off. I got the idea for a new project: The Culinary Saijiki. As most people who read this blog probably know, I’m a big fan of food (eating more so than cooking). I’m also interested in the ways in which English-language haiku practitioners approach the seasons in their haiku practice. I realized that food is one way in which people can connect to the seasons, and decided I wanted to go deeper into exploring that connection. I launched the first blog post earlier in April. (I planned to announce it here that same week, but hey . . . I’m moving and wrapping up the semester. Things are a bit hectic.)

In addition to the blog, I’ve also decided to start a companion podcast, where I talk to haiku practitioners about the ways in which food shows up in their work. I’m already in the process of sorting out my first guests, but I’d love to hear from the rest of the haiku community. If you are a haiku poet, or know a haiku poet, who might like to have a conversation with me, the Join the Conversation page has the information you need to get started. The podcast launches in June, and I’d love to have a few conversations recorded in advance so I can sustain momentum in the midst of my big move.

I’m excited for this new facet of my creative life. I still prefer to keep this site more general, so I’ll only crosspost when I have major announcements. If you want to stay updated, head over to The Culinary Saijiki and subscribe!

Notes on Negotiating for a Car

Five years ago!

As I finish this post, I’m thinking about the meme that complains about the essay that inevitably comes before a recipe on a poetry blog. So I’m going to lead with John’s four key tips for negotiating a car. If you want the context for why I have car negotiation tips on a poetry blog, the essay will be at the end.

Four Tips That Served Me Well in Auto Dealership Negotiations

  1. Make sure that you have access to the full amount of money for the car you want to buy. If this is a private sale, always carry cash–even if the amount is a little unnerving. If it’s a dealership, make sure you have a check.
  2. Initially offer 30% below asking price. They will scoff, and you will remind them that you have all the money to pay 30% below asking price right now.
  3. They will come down, inevitably. Private people are persuaded by hundred dollar bills, and salespeople prefer less profit to no sale.
  4. If they resist, gesture toward leaving. This both is and isn’t a bluff. There are always other cars, and you can in fact look elsewhere. This is not your dream car. It is a mass-produced machine.
Why Have I Posted Car Negotiation Tips to a Poetry Blog?

You are probably wondering what negotiating for a car has to do with poetry, or anything else I talk about on this blog. And I’ll admit, I’m not usually one to talk about finance, or finance-related topics, in any of my writing. I have, however, written a number of poems about driving. And this morning, I realized I’ve been a happy Subaru owner for half a decade! I bought my preowned Outback in the summer of 2016, and even though the car is now 12 years old, it’s still going strong!

I’ve always been slightly ashamed to admit that I paid full sticker for the 2008 Volkswagen Beetle I had before the Subaru… that one I also bought preowned in 2011, but though it was only a year older than the car I now have, within five years, my beloved convertible Beetle was sadly proving to not be a reliable vehicle. Each year, one of the window regulators broke. In the last year I owned it, the trunk wouldn’t work, the rear window fell in, and the rear struts went out. By the summer of 2016, I was ready to cut my losses and move on.

Of course, being embarrassed over paying full sticker, I was reluctant to go car shopping again. Words cannot express how much I loathe having to negotiate for anything. The one and only time I had to negotiate for my salary, I honestly felt like I was going to die. I am not being hyperbolic. I would rather have a root canal than negotiate for anything. I was aware, however, the extent to which I’d really lost out by paying full sticker for my Beetle.

John happened to be in Morocco when this whole excursion was happening, but over Facebook message, he wrote me an excellent negotiation outline that served me well. I followed it step by step, and got a car I wanted at a shockingly low mileage, especially for Austin, where you are lucky to find a used Subaru with less than 100,000 on it already.

Over the years, friends have asked me for the method, but as I only used it once, I didn’t commit it to memory. However, it was useful. And at some point, I will have to buy another vehicle… but I only hit 100,00 miles on my Outback in December 2019, and I’m angling for 300,000 before I get a new vehicle. But between people asking for negotiation tips, and the difficulty of finding old information in the Facebook messenger interface, I’m reproducing the negotiating outline here, for anyone who wants it. May the odds be ever in your favor when it comes to a vehicle negotiation.

(Also, may you never have to wade through five years of old Facebook messages to find the one you are looking for. This might be the most time-intensive blog post I have ever written, just because of the terrible Messenger interface.)

June Poetry Contest

Photo by Michelle Leman on

“Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it.”

Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Let’s try not to miss the summer solstice this year! In honor of the official transition into summer, write a poem on the theme of daylight. Let your poem span at least one entire page.

Email your poem to by 11:59 pm on June 20th (the summer solstice!). The winner will receive a gift certificate to the independent bookstore of their choice, or I will make a donation in their honor to a nonprofit.

View past contest winners here.

May Poetry Contest Winner

My poetry contest continues to bring amazing poetry entries from an international audience! I truly never thought I’d be getting responses from other continents.

This month, the winning poem comes from Medha Goel, a poet living in India. Medha posts short poems under the instagram handle of @whyj_st.

The $25 prize will be send to Medha directly.

Medha’s poem was created using page 242 of Like a Charm by Karin Slaughter.

The Best of It: Spring Semester is Over Edition

Astrid isn’t very subtle when it comes to popcorn.
  1. The salted PB&J ice cream pie recipe by Sohla El-Waylly
  2. Getting most of my summer prep done early so I can have some actual time off
  3. Plans for small outdoor writer gatherings
  4. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
  5. Getting to FaceTime with John regularly while he’s in Denmark

Join Us on a Virtual Poetry Road Trip!

Register for the event via Eventbrite!

Even with pandemic restrictions loosening, I’m still inclined to take precautions regarding large events. Most of the poets I know are still hosting readings online, and I’m not about to be the first one to push the status quo. But now that the spring semester is over, I’m getting that usual burst of creative energy, and I wanted to host an event. It’s definitely been a while.

I also wanted to collaborate with Zoe Fay-Stindt again. We edited the 2020 Texas Poetry Calendar together, and since then she’s spent time in Europe, and then returned to the USA to pursue her MFA at Iowa State University. When the idea for a virtual poetry road trip between Texas and Iowa popped into my head, I immediately messaged her, and then, it was on!

The Virtual Poetry Road Trip takes place on Friday, May 21st from 6:00-7:30 pm CST. This event is by donation, and you can still join even if you can’t contribute financially. We’re asking all attendees to register via Eventbrite. If you are unable to make a donation and have trouble registering, please contact me directly! We will work it out!

If you want to know more about our featured poets, read on! Otherwise, head over to our Eventbrite page to attend. And bring your own road trip snacks! (I’ll have two kinds of potato chips.)

Featured Poets
Cindy Huyser’s (TX) poems have received Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominations, and appear in many journals and anthologies. Her chapbook, Burning Number Five: Power Plant Poems, was co-winner of the 2014 Blue Horse Press Poetry Chapbook Contest, and her first full-length collection, Cartography, is forthcoming from 3: A Taos Press. She has edited or co-edited a number of anthologies, including Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems (Dos Gatos Press, 2016) and several editions of the Texas Poetry Calendar. Cindy has been a juried performer for the Houston Poetry Fest, Houston’s Public Poetry series, and the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, and lives in Austin, Texas, where she hosts the monthly BookWoman 2nd Thursday Poetry Reading and Open Mic series.

Ken Hada (OK) lives in rural Pottawatomie County in Oklahoma. He has published eight volumes of poetry, including his latest, Sunlight & Cedar (VACPoetry, 2020). Ken’s poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac, and his work has been awarded by The Western Writers of America, The National Western Heritage Museum, SCMLA and The Oklahoma Center for the Book. Information available at

Dottie Joslyn (MO) is a writer and poet living in Southwest Missouri. She is a retired Certified Applied Poetry Facilitator in the field of Poetry Therapy, Certified Journal Facilitator, and Journal to the Self® Instructor. Her poems have appeared in: American Tanka, Buffalo Bones, Poetry from the Trail Ridge Writers, Wellness & Writing Connections Newsletter, Beginning Again: Creative Responses to Poetry of Presence, and Gyroscope Review. She also has a poetry book, Just Show Up, published in late 2018. Her website, has more information and includes an interactive blog.

Jennifer L. Knox’s (IA) sixth book of poems, Crushing It, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2020. Publisher’s Weekly’s review called Crushing It, “Darkly inventive…This is a careful, thoughtful book about the complexities of identity and the difficulty of words.” Knox’s poems have been published in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, Granta, McSweeney’s,five times in the Best American Poetry series, and the 2022 Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses anthology. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. She received an Iowa Arts Council Fellowship for her crowdsourced poetry project, Iowa Bird of Mouth. Over 750 people from around the world contributed to the project; the code is open source and free to use in noncommercial projects.