Joanna’s writing

Current book project

I am currently writing a book on my experiences of living in the Altai Republic, Siberia. The book starts by looking at what took me to Siberia in my late twenties, the searching questions I carried with me and some of the answers I returned with. I describe: what it was like to live in a remote valley with the Altai indigenous people, my meetings with the tattooed Ice-Maiden, and a 5-year study of ancient rock art and indigenous art. I share my translator’s apprenticeship that took place in the field and eventually lead to working with indigenous leaders on sacred land, interpreting on international pilgrimages and snow leopard conservation expeditions.  Finally, I celebrate the people of Siberia, the faces and voices that figured strongly on my journey – knowledge keepers, elders and shamans, women and other writers, who tested and guided me until my ten-year pilgrimage reached its conclusion.

If you would like to have access to podcasts, readings and news of events related to this forthcoming book, sign up to Altai Pilgrim Studio and we’ll journey together into the Golden Mountains of Siberia, to the East – to Altai.

Friends in Novosibirsk often asked me why I left the comforts of Europe for an old wooden house in a remote Altai village, where I was destined to chop wood, hack ice, lob cow pats and occasionally steal coal, all the while contemplating the spiritual philosophy of the White Faith. I replied in the manner every Russian could understand: “Call of the heart” (zov serdtsa). They would nod, eyeing me carefully, and with that, my relocation required no further explanation. Joanna Dobson

Joanna Dobson

A throat-singing storyteller, a ‘kaichy’, moved slowly toward the fire that burned at the center. He had the awkward gait of an old man and leaned slightly forwards over a topshur, a wooden string instrument he kept sheltered close to his body. The flames of the fire leapt to caress his cheek as he approached and, lighting up his face in the darkness of the night, revealed the figure to be a young man no more than thirty years old. He crouched down on one knee, now holding his instrument out towards the flames speaking a blessing meant only for the coals. Joanna Dobson

Joanna Dobson

Examples of Joanna’s writing:

To the Golden Mountains of Altai: A Journey of Language & soul   in Terralingua Magazine

A Letter from the Altai Republic: A Journey to the Heart of Russia’s Shangri-La   in  The Calvert Journal

A Journey to Sacred Altai   in Kindred Spirit Magazine

The Sun, the Sage and the Soul   in British-Russian Journal


If you would like to learn more about Joanna’s writing Sign Up to receive newsletter updates or email Joanna at