Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Aiko Harman

Fuselit first came across Aiko Harman's work when she appeared in our MARS issue. We were impressed by her clean, spare style and quirky approach and it was great to be able to feature her work. Thanks to my tomfoolery, she was wrongly credited in the bios section as male. She is in fact, very much female and a powerhouse of creative projects, as well as an enthusiastic promoter of the projects of others.

The first thing you discover online when you search Aiko's name is her blog. Eccentric, cute and beautifully laid out, with polaroid images, cartoons and lots of features on her own work and that of other people, it's inviting and energetic and does wonders to dispel preconceptions about poetry being stuffy.

Furthermore, how many writer's blogs do you know that have a store? OK, well maybe a few, in which you can find standard copies of pamphlets and books. How many writer's stores, then, feature handmade robot, seahorse and goldfish toys based on their poetry?

Poetrybot: Circuit breaks? Line breaks? You got it!

As Aiko herself puts it: "I kept going to poetry readings where all anyone ever had for sale were poetry pamphlets and chapbooks. Pamphlets are great and lovely and cheap and nice to collect but sometimes it's good to see some variety on the table."

The Poetry Pets (our favourite is the plush Scrabble tile) are part of Aiko's co-piloted project The Adventures of Lion and Sloth. Unsurprisingly, Fuselit fell head over heels for the idea. How cool is that? Lion and Sloth also does stationary and no doubt has other plans for poetry/craft crossover fun in the pipeline.

You can also read her poetry on the blog, where it quickly becomes apparent that Aiko is all about collaboration. From lyrics to spurwords to practical projects, her style lends itself readily to so many creative ideas and seems to represent the prompt, the process and the result in different scenarios. You spend a minute or two wishing there was more of this kind of enthusiasm for cross-pollination about. Then you buy a robot and grin all the way home.

Aiko Harman hails originally from Los Angeles, but is currently studying for an MSc in Creative Writing at Edinburgh University. She has also lived and taught in Japan. She is interested in representing her mixed Japanese-American heritage in her poetry, which has featured in Miyagi's International literary journal, The Drum, and in Edinburgh's Read This, and Tontine, among others. She was a 2008 recipient of the William Hunter Sharpe scholarship in creative writing.

See more of Aiko in the upcoming Sidekick Books anthology Obakarama, a collection of poetry inspired by Japanese folks monsters, in which she tackles the Kappa! More on this in good time.

(all images borrowed from www.lionandsloth.com and aikowrites.blogspot.com)
Oh, and you can follow Aiko on Twitter too, at www.twitter.com/aikowrites

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