A Feeling for Rock – Finalist at Banff!

Book, Climbing, News, Poetry

Happily amazed to be announced as a Finalist! Fiction & Poetry Category, Banff Mountain Book Competition 2021. Just brilliant news. See the spine of the book on their publicity thumbnail!?! Ridiculously excited about that.

Writing poetry in the van, funding self-publishing, paying the postage sending books off to Canada all require a certain stubbornness and faith. This announcement from Banff is like being given some clean water to play in, after digging in the dirt. I like the dirt too! But this feels pretty special.


Thumbnail from the Banff Mountain Book Competition September 2021

Trad & Woke & Death with Sarah-Jane Dobner

Book, Climbing, News

Another short film! 20 minutes which seems to capture everything about days out on rock. Sandro Gromen-Hayes made it as part of his “Tales from the Wild” series. Here’s his intro: “A glorious day chatting and climbing with the one of my Bristol besties Sarah-Jane Dobner. From trad to poetry to privilege we explore various themes, highs and lows.” Sandro summited Everest a few weeks ago, which rather puts Whitt in Symonds Yat into perspective. His Instagram feed is a feast: https://www.instagram.com/sandro.g.h/?hl=en

Review of A Feeling in UKC

Climbing, News, Poetry

This was heartwarming. Ian Parnell published a lot of articles for me when he was editor of Climb magazine, for which I will ever be indebted. Everyone needs a champion and, early on, he championed me. One thing I love in this review is his tally of contents. I’d never counted up the parts of the book myself – as I can’t keep track of lengths in the swimming pool doing a slow breaststroke – but I really appreciate the rigour of it. Also my favourite line is: “One of the pleasures of reading this book is you rarely know what Dobner is going to come up with next.”


Portland: Here be Dragons

Climbing, Poetry

It took me years to love Portland. So many monsters!


Gunslingers, Part I: Coppola

Dinner at the chippy on Weston Road
Codfathers. Mafia allusions, gangster, tongue-in-cheek
Nod to Francis Ford Coppola
But fish and chips, night after night?

Monday evening. Every pub kitchen shut. No restaurants
Drive through the prefabs and estates, looking for food
And fail. Boil up some pasta and grate on cheddar
Sleep in the van, barely satisfied

Next morning in the lay-by, jot verbatim
The words of a young man to his climbing companion
Can you be fucked with more of these giant ciabattas?
As they pack their rucksacks for Cheyne Weares

A new, potty-mouthed mob. Only a question of time, surely
Before Portland gentrifies. It’s coastal, beautiful
Well-connected with a magnificent climate
But it’s an island, with its own code, and doesn’t need outsiders


Costa Blanca: Book of Wonders

Climbing, Poetry

The rock-climber’s classic winter refuge. More rock than you will ever eat!


Fruit (Xaló)

Naranja! Naranja! tres euros, seis kilos
Dutch you? English? juice eat – yes! – these – juice!
you try – take, take! tomates? green, red?
this – doesn’t matter! – medio kilo? lekker, lekker!

She proffers tissues for our sticky orange-hands
but I’ve already wiped mine on my trousers
Ha! where wife, wife? she mimes – slapping the
air-husband who smears his shorts whilst always insisting

on wearing white. Siete euros cincuenta. We pay and turn
then hear her call – Venga! two huge, yellow suckable lemons
hitched up at breast-level – then! guttural laughter –
she drops them lower – offers us, gratis, sour fruity balls


The Western Isles: Checkmate

Climbing, Poetry

Skye and the Outer Hebrides. Where desire and grief seem one and the same.


Peat (Skinidin, Skye)

Usually the earth is hard
A crust
I’m used to this
Where I put the past behind me

But on the Islands
Reach into the peat and
Your hands slide down through

Spooky. The undead
Exes and myths
Clasp my wrists
From the black water