UA-116782038-1 Laying Foundations | Nick Toczek's Website

Laying foundations

In September 1969, the month I became nineteen, I did my first gig. It was at a music and poetry event in the Debating Hall of The Students’ Union of Birmingham University where I was a student. Suffering from dreadful nervousness, I was shaking so much that I could only read hunched on a chair in the centre of a bare stage. The audience of around two hundred people actually applauded me. I’d become a performer-poet! It would take further hundred plus appearances for me to gain sufficient confidence to stand up.    

In September 1969, the month I became nineteen, I did my first gig. It was at a music and poetry event in the Debating Hall of The Students’ Union of Birmingham University where I was a student. Suffering from dreadful nervousness, I was shaking so much that I could only read hunched on a chair in the centre of a bare stage. The audience of around two hundred people actually applauded me. I’d become a performer-poet! It would take further hundred plus appearances for me to gain sufficient confidence to stand up.

Nick Tockzek 1972
Black Columbus Poets
Nick Toczek, Because The Evenings

Late that term, with fellow student, John Akeroyd, I co-founded and began co-editing a poetry magazine, Black Columbus. After that first faltering gig of mine, I was keen to do more readings. We soon formed a performance group of like-minded students associated with the magazine, calling ourselves Black Columbus Poets. 

It was at our fifth or sixth reading, in the upstairs room of a Birmingham pub, that a member of the audience approached me and fellow BCP-member, Keith Wilson, offering to publish pamphlets of our work. He was J.C.R. Green who, having inherited a printing-press from his father, was about to launch a poetry publishing house called Aquila. His plan was to produce an initial series of ten individual pamphlets by both new and established poets, with mine and Keith’s among them.   

It was at our fifth or sixth reading, in the upstairs room of a Birmingham pub, that a member of the audience approached me and fellow BCP-member, Keith Wilson, offering to publish pamphlets of our work. He was J.C.R. Green who, having inherited a printing-press from his father, was about to launch a poetry publishing house called Aquila. His plan was to produce an initial series of ten individual pamphlets by both new and established poets, with mine and Keith’s among them.

So it was that in 1972, my first slim collection of poems, Because The Evenings, was published. Over the next ten years I’d work closely with Jim Green and Aquila would publish a further four collections of my poetry and a short first novel.

 

That same year, Jim printed and I published the first edition of my own magazine, The Little Word Machine

The Little Word Magazine
Nick Toczek inteview, Telegraph & Argus, 27 March 1973

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