Interview in Pink

Book, Climbing, News, Performance, Poetry

Somehow the timing was right and the sky was blue and it was Sunday at Kendal Mountain Film & Literature Festival, once all the stressful stuff was over, and I really enjoyed meeting Natalie Berry for the first time and Nick Brown who filmed us was lovely and calm and friendly. So I enjoyed the interview. Even though I struggled to sit on my chair.

Chatting to Natalie Berry, part of Kendal Rekindled

Banff Acceptance Speech!

Book, Climbing, News, Performance, Poetry

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”.

Shextreme Adventure Poetry Winner!

Book, Climbing, News, Performance, Poetry

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.


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

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