So I had a week to record and send an acceptance speech and there was only one sunny day forecast, so Grace and I headed up to the Ramp, at Sea Walls, Avon Gorge, Bristol to be with the rocks and share my thanks. There’s quite a lot of traffic noise, and a fair amount of mud. But the views! Brunel’s Suspension Bridge! The gorgeous limestone!
Watching this ceremony I was pretty staggered by the immense staging. It kind of sunk in how tremendous it is for the book to get this award. A lovely introduction by Heather Dawe, and fabulous words from the sponsors at Mountain Life: “…it’s our intention to keep supporting creatives doing adventures, like Sarah-Jane Dobner. And ones brave enough to enter the ring of sweat, blood and toil to bring their vision to our lives. Thank you for doing what you do”.
Very honoured that my poem ‘Hands’ (p.236 in A Feeling for Rock!) was the winning Adventure Poem at Shextreme Film Festival 2021. Here I am reading the poem! The Festival, a “cinematic celebration of women in extreme sports and adventure”, was held last Saturday at the Arnolfini, Bristol, and was a total joy. Thank you especially to the brilliant Dr Ruth Farrar for organising it, and to the marvellous women who chatted to me afterwards and cut the Feeling Cards for a free book – out of 7 players, 3 chose DEVOTION and 2 chose LOVE. There is a 1/57 probability each time you cut the cards.
Super happy to report that A Feeling for Rock has won the Climbing Literature Award 2021 in the Mountain Book Competition at Banff Film Festival. For a self-published author, this is the stuff of dreams. I am now dreaming of speaking at Banff next year. I am also dreaming of having a publisher. These are wondrous days.
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.
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
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.”
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
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