Haiku Economics by Roosevelt Students

I give economics students an unusual chance to express themselves, by writing and reciting haiku poetry about economic theory, fact, and experience.  Here’s a sample of “haiku economics” written during exams by students at Roosevelt University.

A blanket of oats
untouched by the cardinal
singing for his mate

by Michelle Fashandi

[ Ms. Fashandi's haiku and the haiku directly below hers, by RU student Rusty LeBlanc, were recited and discussed on National Public Radio, by Boston journalist Tom Ashbrook, the host of "On Point", during an interview that poets' Dylan Tweney, George Swede, and I did with him, January 12, 2011. ]


Beyond the skyline -
Thousands of deserted homes
waiting for their turns

by Rusty LeBlanc

Self-interested,                                                                                                                                     homo economicus                                                                                                                        selfishly lives on.

by Kirill “Kyle” Kiperman

[ In a just world, Kiperman's generous haiku about the selfish nature of modern economics would be stolen by Billy Collins.  Collins might react as I did, wishing somewhat selfishly that he himself had thought of it.  Is it senryu or haiku? "Both," replies the Impartial Spectator of haiku history and economic thought.  Mr. Kiperman's poem was published in the Roosevelt Review (Fall, 2009), in a splendid article by Laura Janota, "Haikunomics: Unlikely partners/Haiku and Economics/Disciplining Minds", pp. 26-29]

Economic drain:                                                                                                                                    The semester is complete                                                                                                         suffered not defeat.                                                                                                                                                                  by Justin Howell

[ Mr. Howell's haiku was published in a brilliant page 1 Wall Street Journal article by Mary Pilon, "Fannie, Freddie, Bear & Hard Times: Wall Street's Collapse, Told in Rhymes," Dec. 31, 2008.  Suffered not defeat!  Mary Pilon (WSJ, reporter) brought much-needed smiles and poems to the collapsed economy.  Now you can smile some more with Mary, at tumblr. ]

Marginal revenue                                                                                                                                 Set at about equal to                                                                                                                     The marginal cost.

by Nikole Clevenger

Rock on, Nikole.  You’ve explained efficiency, efficiently.  Here is a poem crafted by an economics student (Anonymous, 2002) during an hourly exam I gave at Georgia Tech.  Among other things, this poem is Pareto efficient, as it has the virtue of being a nuisance to both economic and haiku theory:

Now Keynes was the man
Who defied the Classical
Supply and Demand.

Roosevelt University graduate Jacob Cole (BA Honors, ’11) and friends are putting haiku economics to music.  They formed a band, Basho, which Cole named after the founding father of haiku, Matsuo Basho (1644-1694).  Discover Basho in an article published in the  Chicago Flame (April 18, 2011), a newspaper of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Basho, 2011 (Jacob Cole, right)

In October 2014, six of my students published haiku and renga in the International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education  The recently published economic poets are Samuel Barbour, Cathleen Vasquez, Joseph Molina, Cameron Simak, Jacob Lundquist, and Morgan Higgs.

For additional stories and advice on how and why to teach haiku economics, see Stephen T. Ziliak, “Haiku Economics: Money, Metaphor, and the Invisible Hand”, Poetry CXCVII (4, Jan.): 314-316, and Stephen T. Ziliak, “Haiku Economics: Little Teaching Aids for Big Economic Pluralists,” International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education 1 (1/2, Oct. 2009): pp. 108-129 (pdf, here):IJPEE0101-0209 ZILIAK