UK and International School Specialists
Working with over 5000 schools in the UK
Over 800 International Schools in more than 65 countries.
Nick Toczek
Nick Toczek
Nick Toczek “The most exciting and visual performer we have this side of Benjamin Zephaniah.”
- NME

All About Nick Toczek

Nick is a best-selling author, a full-time professional writer and performer who currently works variously as a poet, magician, storyteller, puppeteer, novelist, creative writing tutor and journalist.

He has published three dozen books and has made more than 40,000 public appearances. His poetry books alone have sold well over half a million copies!

He’s worked as a visiting writer, tutor and performer in thousands of schools. He also performs at festivals and family events, in libraries and prisons, on radio and TV and in colleges and universities. He’s even been paid to tour supermarkets, perform on a train and in a fast-food restaurant, read from the top of a ladder in a church and help children to write poems while caving!

Nick is a craftsman and a wordsmith of the highest order. His poems are funny and thought-provoking, accessible yet challenging and above all they paint a vivid picture in the mind of the reader.

Nick’s Million-Miles-An-Hour show has thrilled school audiences all around the world, from Birmingham to Bangkok, York to Yokohama.

Whether you are 3 or 103 you will love Nick Toczek and his poetry.

His commissioned opera, The Jailer’s Tale, for which he’s written the entire playscript together with all the lyrics, premiered at London’s Arts Depot in Spring 2010, with further performances at The Royal Festival Halls and at The Yehudi Menuhin School. As a rock song lyricist, he’s recently co-written a song for acclaimed indie band, Babyshambles, and is currently recording tracks for his own new album.

Nick’s School Visits

Nick works with all age groups and abilities. At one end of the age spectrum, he often visits Sure Start and other pre-school groups. At the other, he regularly works in universities and colleges. For his performances, he prefers large groups and often does whole-school shows that hold the attention of very young and older pupils alike. For his workshops, Nick can adapt to work with all ages and all sizes of groups, from half a dozen to a couple of hundred at a time.

Nick has worked extensively in special schools and has also visited pupil referral units and secure units to work with young people with severe behavioural problems. He is also experienced in working with exceptionally able students, along with students who have English as a second language and pupils with various sensory impairments.

Nick’s school visits are usually for a whole day, however he is also available to give short residencies, half-day sessions (preferably with work arranged in a nearby school for the other half of the day) or days devoted to short presentations in a series of schools.

The structure and content of Nick’s visits can usually be adapted to meet the requirements and expectations of staff and pupils in the host school. Visits usually begin with an hour-long performance to the whole school. However, this can be shortened or Nick can give a several performances to suit school schedules, facilities and the different needs of specific year groups or key stage groups.

For the rest of the day, Nick usually does a series of creative writing sessions, sometimes with one group, but more often consecutively with various classes or year groups. He’s well used to adjusting his approach to suit groups of any size, from small classes through to whole schools. Rather than simply invigilate while pupils write, Nick usually describes and demonstrates a number of different writing methods/ideas/projects. He also talks about the presentation of finished work, both on-page and through performance. He may get pupils to start work on several pieces, leaving teachers to do follow-on writing sessions, preferably on the same day. Teachers are encouraged to be present and to make notes of Nick’s suggestions and ideas during the workshop to enable follow-on work. If working with various groups throughout a day, he usually offers different ideas to each. This way, after Nick’s gone, the various groups can show or perform finished work to each other and so get further inspiration.

Nick’s workshops are designed to be fast, lively, informative, entertaining, interactive and – above all – inspirational and confidence building. His ideas often include poetry for both page and performance, fiction, true stories, personal/family history and some aspects of journalism. Quite often, towards the end of the visit, Nick gets together with all the involved pupils and staff to hear some of the finished writing and/or extracts from work-in-progress.

Primary Schools: Nick adjusts his performances and workshops to suit each age-group and can also work with groups of mixed ages. If he’s doing a performance for the whole school, this will be a version of his family show, Nick Toczek’s Million-Miles-An-Hour Show. This is a fast-moving blend of poems, magic, puppetry, stories, comedy and participation.

N.B. Please don’t exclude reception and/or nursery. Teachers often worry about suitability and duration, however when younger students are present, Nick goes out of his way to include them and easily keeps them engaged for an hour.

This is a poem that a student created as a result of one Nick’s poetry workshops in April 2010:

My Infinite Box

In my infinite box, I keep,
A potion to make elephants leap,
A world where made up creatures live,
A walking, talking, thinking sieve,
A miniscule man from Guadeloupe,
A witch’s frothy, foaming soup,
A town where all the people sing,
St. Paul’s Cathedral’s secret twin,
A chess set, baseball bat, and more,
Even a yellow dinosaur!

In my infinite box, I’ve got,
An ancient Neolithic pot,
A hat that does all sorts of tricks,
A vampire prevention box, garlics,
A pizza topped with scrumptious cheese,
A hive of hornets, wasps and bees,
A concoction that carnivores crave,
(It’s actually blood from a nobleman’s grave)!
There are lots of things in my infinite box,
But weirdest of all is chicken pox!

Secondary Schools: For the younger end of secondary, Nick usually does similar sessions to those he offers to upper primary, but covers more ground, using older themes and focusing more on the details of the writing process, developing techniques, honing and evaluating work etc. For middle and upper secondary, Nick runs broad-based writing workshops and/or talks about his work as a journalist, rock lyricist, classical librettist and all-round professional writer. He also talks about the relevance of writing and speaking skills to teenagers, looking at writing as a means of self-expression and self-discovery, working on performance and public speaking techniques, discussing the structure and parameters of effective and efficient use of language and generally underlining the value of fluency in written and spoken language.. none of which is at all as dry as that description sounds. Nick is always both informative and entertaining! Given notice, Nick is often happy to slant sessions so that they’re relevant to other work that the pupils may be undertaking.

Teachers: Nick regularly works with teachers in after-school sessions, inset days, conferences, etc. These sessions are practical, entertaining and anecdotal. They’re based on his own writing, his experiences in schools and his ideas on language and education. Nick can talk about his methods of working with pupils to develop their reading and writing skills, the theory behind this, or even run workshops to help teachers develop their own writing skills.

Parents: Nick is very keen to involve parents in all stages of his work with their children. He presents writing workshops for parents and he often gives evening shows either for pupils and parents together or for parents and teachers. He’s also more than happy to have interested parents sit in on his sessions with pupils.

Adults/Older Pupils: Nick runs the Northern School of Writing, which he founded in 1995 as a series of accredited courses while he was a lecturer at Bretton Hall College of The University of Leeds. Now fully independent, the NSW offers a range of adaptable creative writing classes led by Nick. These include: Becoming a Professional Writer, Journalism, Comedy Writing, Storytelling and Writing for Children. Nick can be employed to run any these courses, either as one-off sessions or as a series of workshops.

Overseas: Over the past few years, Nick has been a visiting writer in schools in (and the community) in China, France, Indonesia (Sumatra, Borneo and Bali), Egypt, Kuwait, Cyprus, Italy, Malaysia and Singapore. He has also worked with mixed groups of Catholic and Protestant children in both Northern and Southern Ireland.

Nick’s Books

**Nick signs all copies of his books purchased by students on the day of his visit.**

Number, Number, Cut a Cucumber

number number

Nick Toczek doesn’t just read out his poems.
He shouts and chants them,
dances and leaps them,
whispers and SCREEEEEEEEEEAMS them!

See if you can read them out loud like him or get your friends to join in with you as you perform!

Cats n Bats n Slugs n Bugs
Collected Creature Poems

Nick Toczek’s creature poems are a compilation of all the wacky, zany and brilliant ideas that spin round and round in his head all day long. Nick’s poems are funny and thought-provoking, accessible yet challenging, and above all they paint a vivid picture in the mind of the reader. Enter Nick Toczek’s amazing world and see things differently!

‘A combination of straight-hitting humour and verbal dexterity… crackling with rhythms, raps, rhymes and repetitions that beg to
be read aloud.’
– The Times Educational Supplement

Me and My Poems

me and my poems

Nick Toczek – poet, magician, puppeteer, storyteller, journalist or stand up comic? Nick is all of these and far more! Nick is renowned for his riotous, non-stop approach to poetry, and this book is no exception – a collection of original poetry with subjects as broad as dinosaurs, concrete streets, ghosts, waiting at bus stops, and shopping lists! Nick’s poetry is highly original and will appeal to all ages.

Dragons are Back

dragons-are-back

To purchase Nick’s books, click here.

Samples of Nick’s Poems

Click here to see Nick perform ‘The Dragon Who Ate Our School’

Telltale

My sister’s being silly and
My brother’s acting dumb.
I’m telling. I’m telling.
I’m telling mum.

And the biscuit tin is empty.
There’s not a single crumb.
I’m telling. I’m telling.
I’m telling mum.

My sister took my tricycle.
My brother’s got my drum.
I’m telling. I’m telling.
I’m telling mum.

And both of them are eating sweets
So they should give me some.
I’m telling. I’m telling.
I’m telling mum.

My sister’s got me in a mood.
My bother makes me glum.
I’m telling. I’m telling.
I’m telling mum.

They always get the things they want.
Now they’ve got chewing gum.
I’m telling. I’m telling.
I’m telling mum.

My sister slammed the door on me.
She nearly trapped my thumb.
I’m telling. I’m telling.
I’m telling mum.

My brother’s taken off his shoes
And his socks really hum.
I’m telling. I’m telling.
I’m telling mum.

My sister’s eating apples now.
My brother’s got a plum.
I’m telling. I’m telling.
I’m telling mum.

Cos they won’t give me any fruit
And I’ve an empty tum.
I’m telling. I’m telling.
I’m telling mum.

I Can Count

I can count to one
With a current bun. (put imaginary bun in mouth and loudly munch)

I can count to two
With me and you. (point to self. then someone else)

I can count to three
Bumble-bee. (flap hands at shoulder-level, like wings)

I can count to four
Give a loud ROAR. (pronounce ROAR as a long, loud growl)

I can count to five
Watch me drive. (hands to mime turning a steering-wheel)

I can count to six
Juggling tricks. (hands to mime juggling with balls or clubs)

I can count to seven
Point to Heaven. (pointing upwards)

I can count to eight
Concentrate. (hunched up, with one fist against forehead)

I can count to nine
Do the happy sign. (thumbs up)

I can count to ten (holding up all ten fingers and thumbs)
Let’s do that again…

I can count to one
With a current bun. (put imaginary bun in mouth and loudly munch)

I can count to two
With me and you. (point to self. then someone else)

I can count to three
Bumble-bee. (flap hands at shoulder-level, like wings)

I can count to four
Give a loud ROAR. (pronounce ROAR as a long, loud growl)

I can count to five
Watch me drive. (hands to mime turning a steering-wheel)

I can count to six
Juggling tricks. (hands to mime juggling with balls or clubs)

I can count to seven
Point to Heaven. (pointing upwards)

I can count to eight
Concentrate. (hunched up, with one fist against forehead)

I can count to nine
Do the happy sign. (thumbs up)

I can count to ten (holding up all ten fingers and thumbs)
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. (bowing slowly and grandly)

It’s Freezing Cold

It’s far too cold to get out of bed.
My toes’ll be frozen. My nose’ll be red.

I’ll stay snuggled up all day instead.
You’ll never see more than the top of my head.

I’ll be quite alright so long as I’m fed.
So bring me a drink and a slice of bread.

But I bet you the butter won’t even spread.
And my milk’ll be more like a lump of lead.

It’s far too cold to get out of bed.
My toes’ll be frozen. My nose’ll be red.

So leave me alone. You heard what I said.
I’m under the covers and cuddling ted.

Did someone say ‘snowing’? I’m out of bed.
Got boots on, gloves on, sledge from the shed.

I’m not going to lie there like I’m dead.
I’m spending the day outside instead.

My toes’ll be frozen. My nose’ll be red.
But it’s far too nice for staying in bed.

Sent To Bed

Sadly sitting on a stair.
Sadly with my teddy bear.
Sadly cos it isn’t fair.
We’re up here and they’re down there.

Nobody Here

Where’s Jed? Still in bed.
Where’s John? Come and gone.
Where’s Jean? Not been seen.
Where’s Jan? In Japan.
Where’s Joan? On the phone.
Where’s Jack? Won’t be back.

Where’s Jake? On his break.
Where’s Jill? Absent still.
Where’s Jude? Fetching food.
Where’s Joy? Out with Roy.
Where’s Jim? Cops took him.
Where’s Jay? Went away.

Where’s James? Playing games.
Where’s Jess? Changed address.
Where’s Jock? Died of shock.
Where’s Jane? Can’t explain.
Where’s Jules? Broke the rules.
Where’s Jill? Absent still.

Where’s Jade? Been delayed.
Where’s June? Honeymoon.
Where’s Jen? Gone again.
Where’s Judd? Caked in mud.
Where’s Jem? Bethlehem.
Where’s Josh? Somewhere posh.

Where’s Joe? Had to go.
Where’s Jeff? Oh-eff-eff.
Where’s Jazz? Meeting Baz.
Where’s Joss? With the boss.
Where’s Jez? Sick, he says.
Where’s Jeb? On The Web.

Where are you? On the loo.

The Not-Me Kid

The Not-Me Kid
The Not-Me Kid
Said that he didn’t
But of course he did
So he became
The Not-Me Kid.
That’s his nickname:
The Not-Me Kid.

“Not me! Not me!”
We heard him claim.
Oh, but it was.
He knew no shame.
He’d not confess.
We knew him game.
Getting off lightly
Was his aim.

The Not-Me Kid
The Not-Me Kid
Said that he didn’t
But of course he did
So he became
The Not-Me Kid.
That’s his nickname:
The Not-Me Kid.

“I’m innocent!”
He’d still proclaim,
Though “Wasn’t me!”
Now sounded tame
Cos every time
We’d get the same
String of excuses
Each one lame.

The Not-Me Kid
The Not-Me Kid
Said that he didn’t
But of course he did
So he became
The Not-Me Kid.
That’s his nickname:
The Not-Me Kid.

Heatwave

She’s fainting is Linda
And so is Ravinder,
So open the window, Miss.

I speak for Parvinder
Whose tongue’s dry as tinder.
Please open the window, Miss.

This heat’s bound to hinder
The maths of Melinda.
Do open the window, Miss.

It’s upset Lucinda
By melting her Kinder Egg.
Open the window, Miss.

You’re cooking Kabinder
And boiling Belinda.
Now open the window, Miss.

And little Lorinda
Is nearly a cinder!
Oh, open the window,
Open the window,
Open the window, Miss.

The Deadly Rattlesnake

Thin as a rake
A rattlesnake
Beneath a rock
Beside a lake
Begins to wake
Before daybreak
And gives its tail
A noisy shake.

An empty ache
Informs the snake
That it now has
A move to make,
A fast to break
And no mistake.
It gives its tail
A second shake.

Now wide awake
The rattlesnake
Uncoils itself.
A thirst to slake,
A meal to take;
Time to forsake
Its lonely lair.
With one last shake.

And real, not fake,
This hungry snake
With poisoned fangs
For killing’s sake
Would turn down cake.
It wants raw steak.
And creatures’ hearts
Are right to quake.

Beware the deadly rattlesnake!

Where Sid The Spider Hid

Sid the spider hid
Under the toilet lid.

He didn’t! He did.
He didn’t! He did.
I bet you a quid he did.
He didn’t! He did.
He didn’t! He did.
Under the toilet lid.
I kid you not, he did.
Sid the spider hid
This little arachnid
Who build his silky grid
Under the toilet lid.

He didn’t! He did.
He didn’t! He did.
I bet you a quid he did.
He didn’t! He did.
He didn’t! He did.
Under the toilet lid.
I kid you not, he did.

Sid the spider hid
But slipped one day and slid
We heard his eight feet skid
And bid goodbye to Sid
Then flushed the loo, we did
And so got rid of Sid
Who swam off like a squid.

He didn’t! He did.
He didn’t! He did.
I bet you a quid he did.
He didn’t! He did.
He didn’t! He did.
Under the toilet lid.
I kid you not, he did.

Recommendations & Reviews

‘Recently, my school had a wonderful visit with the poet Nick Toczek. He’s not just a poet though. He is a master performer. He is a magician. He is a puppeteer. He is… an incredibly engaging visitor who infused poetry into my students and staff in such fun ways that people are still begging to borrow his books and students are coming up and sharing his poems aloud to me. I love when people have poems memorized. I’ve had a few students come up and tell me that Nick Toczek is their favourite poet and then they shared one of his poems. I walked into a classroom recently and I listened to the students share their poems that were inspired by one of Nick’s poems. What a fantastic visit, highly recommended.’

‘A huge thanks from everyone at Rufford Park for visiting our school yesterday. I’ve never seen the children so captivated for a whole afternoon!
My class are very excited about interviewing you for the school magazine and will be busy this weekend thinking up questions.’ Jon Bentham

“A combination of straight-hitting humour and verbal dexterity.  It is the well-honed work of a performance poet – crackling with rhythms, raps, rhymes and repetitions that beg to be read aloud and savoured for sound as well as amusing  storylines.” The Times Educational Supplement.

‘Thank you so much for organising Nick Toczek’s visit to our school, the day was unforgetable. He started the morning with an hours whole school assembly (which when he said on the phone, I thought would be too long, he would never keep the children’s attention for that long!). The hour was not long enough! He kept each and every person in the room from 4 year old reception children to adult staff thoroughly entertain and engaged for every second.”

‘Nick was not only a brilliant poet but incredibly funny, the children really got his humour and absolutely loved the puppet! The poems appealed to all ages and were observant, humerous and clever. Nick’s magic tricks were equally as entertaining, I am still trying to figure out how he did them!’ When Nick visited each class, he only had a short time with them but from the moment he walked in the room, he had the children eating out the palm of his hand – this is not easy to do, even for the most experienced teacher. He did something different with every class and the children all produced amazing poems themselves as a result.Throughout the day, the whole school was buzzing with the excitement of Nicks visit. Children came into school the next morning, still talking about it; so again, I would like to thank yourself and Nick for a wonderful day and giving the children (and adults) of Seal something and someone to aspire to!!!!’ Liz Mitchell, Deputy Head, Seal Primary School

‘Thank you very much for visiting the school, everyone enjoyed it and we are having nothing but good and positive feedback from parents. Think you have made a really big impression, I saw a few magic tricks going on in the playground this morning. I am receiving more orders and money for your books too, is it possible to leave them with Ruth so she can send them over? Once I get all the orders in would you be able to leave a message in them too. Sorry for any inconvenience caused. I have emailed Ruth also so she is aware of it. Thank you again’ Colum                    

‘This is a rather belated thank you for your entertaining visit during our Arts Festival week. The students really enjoyed your poetry and your magic tricks and the year 10 groups benefited from your tips about creative writing. I hope you had a safe trip back to Yorkshire. Thank you again and good luck with all your future projects and visits abroad!!’ Linda Sheppard, LRC Manager  

‘I don’t think, in all the time that I have been here, that a visitor has been so well received or the ‘talk’ in the staff room so positive… Thank you for being so amenable and for being so entertaining. A real dynamo! The rhythm and the fun of your poetry just thrilled us all from children to grizzly senior management! What’s the secret?’ – Dianne Rawlings, Farleigh School 

‘We had such a wonderful time having you here at Tenby. You have made such a good impact with our students, teachers and even parents. Parents have approached and emailed me giving their huge thanks for preparing the Book Week activities and especially inviting you! Their children are very inspired making poems and pretending to be authors signing books also! This is what makes the Book Week a success! When we touched and inspired students!’ Ruth Silva, Tenby Schools Library, Malaysia

‘We had an amazing day with Nick yesterday, the school is still buzzing today! He was just the tonic that we needed and I have already had one poem read to me that a child did last night at home!’ It was great to see so many staff literally crying with laughter!! Thanks again! – Nikki Yeo, Whiteley Primary School, Fareham, Hampshire, 

“The most exciting and visual performer we have this side of Benjamin Zephaniah.” – NME

“The greatest success was without doubt ‘Mr Dynamite’, the Englishman Nick Toczek whose performance of all-round writings exploded like a firework.” – German daily Neue Presse (reviewing an appearance at Frankfurt Bookfair)

“See him if you can. He’s brilliant.” – The Stage.

“A combination of straight-hitting humour and verbal dexterity. It is the well-honed work of a performance poet – crackling with rhythms, raps, rhymes and repetitions that beg to be read aloud and savoured for sound as well as amusing storylines.” – The Times Educational Supplement.

“A powerful writer who spins words into images with such seeming ease… He uses language in ways others can never hope to emulate” – U.S. Small Press Review.

“A more interesting writer than most… an anti-novel, eschewing such bourgeois expectations as plot, continuity and coherence. It does it rather well, too. The pleasures come from Toczek’s linguistic mischief… and a playful demolition of the relationship between the narrator and his characters… something of a literary accomplishment…” – The Big Issue.

“One of the liveliest (and) perhaps the most immediately accessible of small magazines.” – The Sunday Times (on Nick’s literary magazine, The Little Word Machine).

“Rapidly becoming one of the best rock magazines and certainly the one I look forward to reading.” – Radio One (the DJ John Peel on Nick’s music fanzine, The Wool City Rocker).

Thank you for your fantastic event here at the weekend! Everyone really enjoyed it and it was a great success- we have had lots of enthusiastic feedback from audience members. We hope you enjoyed your visit to Ilkley  as much as we enjoyed having you here. – Rachel Feldberg Director, Ilkley Literature Festival

To Make a Booking

To make an enquiry about Nick Toczek, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at trevor@caboodlebooks.co.uk