“Lisa’s exuberance and her love of human beings is complemented by the same exuberance for the earth. When I heard her speaking ..she really just blew my mind away. I thought, ‘This is the Future’. Because it’s not a future about anxiety and it’s not a future about worrying, which will get us nowhere. But it is the Lisa Fingleton game of love that will absolutely transform everything and I just firmly believe that”.
– Michael Harding (Author)
This book just poured out of me, initially as a way of coping with the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic. It seems so long ago now that we were hearing about this mysterious virus in China and seeing the horrendous images of mass graves around the world.
My parents came to stay for the weekend in Kerry just on the cusp of what we now describe as the first lockdown. While it was lovely as always to have them staying with us, there was a tangible anxiety in the air. As dad was leaving the house he turned to give me a hug and said “This could be the last hug for a while”. I managed to wave them goodbye before bursting into tears. I couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing them again.
I just had to write, to cope with the sadness and feeling of being overwhelmed. As I wrote the words “This could be the last hug for a while, the last time I see your rogueish smile”, I started humming an air and a song was born. A friend and activist also died around the same time and for her I added the lines “Be brave, be strong. Give voice to those who are wronged and shine a light so others find their way”.
I felt the need to reach out to friends and family around the world who were confined to bubbles, appartments and houses. “Cocooning is for butterflies. For humans it is hell”. My partner Rena and I made an impromptu recording of the song to share with them. You can watch it HERE
While there are a few poems about the pandemic itself and nostalgia for the world that was BC (Before Covid) most of them reflect broader concerns about climate change and the erosion of democratic process and human rights. Indeed The Last Hug for A While could have been written for our sisters and brothers in Ukraine. There’s even a poem that is called “I sent some light to Putin” that came to me long before the invasion of Ukraine.
Ultimately the book is a call to action and an invitation to love especially at this time when love and light are needed.
“May the light rise up to meet you and shine into your heart,
May it find its way to others who are struggling in the dark”
I am so grateful who everyone who came to the birthing of of the book by author Michael Harding. If you missed it, you can watch it below.
Thank you for your interest in my book. I am happy to sign and dedicate them to your loved ones. These are first edition, colour, lithographic prints and I am very grateful to Pure Design for the beautiful graphic design. I know not everyone uses PayPal so let me know what suits you (e.g. Revolut, bank details etc). I know some of you have asked for bigger quantities, so just email me and I am happy to give you a discount: email@example.com
Thanks to Kerry County Council Arts Office, Creative Ireland and The Arts Council for supporting this publication through the Kerry Visual Artist in Residence programme. Special thanks to Michael Harding for birthing the book. Thanks also to the Borris Festival of Writing and Ideas, Laois County Council and Haumea Ecoversity. To Padraig Cunningham at Pure Designs for the beautiful design work and to Barbara Derbyshire for proofreading the text.
Thanks to Una, Seán, Kristy, Michael D., Vincent, Shahidah and everyone who inspired words to flow. To Rena Blake for your love and support. Thank you to my friends and family, who surround me with love and kindess. A special thanks to my parents who gave me my passion for creativity, fairness and food.
All proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards native woodland and biodiversity projects. Over 10,000 trees have have been planted at The Barna Way to date.