’Every year the Onkonkay came heralded into the village by the song “Ay addy Onkonkay”. The Onkonkay was a sacked figure trapped in a mesh of ribbons and might have been associated with fertility or even sacrifice. But it was a landscape of few long tradition, with its deepest roots in the industrial revolution,and “Ay Addy Onkonkay” was only the voice’s imitation of the trumpet call announcing a dancing bear.’
Also by Keith Howden: Marches of Familiar Landscape (Peterloo 1978). ‘. . . dynamic and impassioned . . . Keith Howden has done something impressive and original.’ – Fraser Steel, Poetry Editor, BBC Radio.
Onkonkay at the year’s blasting his horned statement beware is coming.
Of the high fell pelted like moorland drinks at the black streams under thunder feasts bright berries of mountain ash.
Spare on the black fell rules the raped moor scours the waste tarns is thorns’ king the wind’s lost beast whose breath acid whose language stone stalks the sour marshes comes trumpeting his beaked festival.
Moves now his ponderous dance on these pavements comes yearly coiled in children black strength garlanded in ribbons to drum these mean streets.
ONKONKAY Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members) Cover illustration: author’s own montage incorporating ‘Arrival of The Bear’ by Oxley Grabham (1910) courtesy of The Royal Photographic Society. Publication: 1984 (70 pages laminated paperback)