- Course studied:
- English Literature and Creative Writing
- Year of graduation:
Poet and teacher
Writer Alex Mazey taught English as a foreign language in the port city of Xiamen in China. Over the past few years he has pursued his passion for writing by producing award winning poetry and articles for prestigious periodicals, digital magazines and alternative news blogs.
In 2018, he won The Roy Fisher Prize for his debut pamphlet of 25 poems, to be published by Flarestack Poets, an award-winning poetry pamphlet press. He continued to build on his writing career while working in China, submitting work to literary magazines while honing his craft.
“I never thought higher education would give me the opportunity to see the world, experience different cultures and teach the subjects I love,” he said.
Studying at Staffs
Alex is originally from Oxford, where he discovered his love of literature and philosophy while studying for his GCSEs. He recalled: “By the time I reached my GCSEs, I found the monotony of school was lessened by English classes. I actually loved reading philosophy but found studying literature stimulated my capacity for creativity.
“Following this, I enrolled at the City of Oxford College. One of my A-level lecturers was a published writer, and we’d read each other’s work during lunch breaks. I’m still staggered by the kindness and patience of those early teachers who cared enough to read my work. In many ways, it was these people that gave me the courage to apply for university.”
Alex signed up to a BA in Creative Writing at Staffordshire University after discovering the well-stocked library and that one of the English lecturers had authored a Reader’s Guide to Nietzsche’s “The Birth of Tragedy”.
He explained: “The degree taught me to be the harshest critic of my work. One thing you soon learn is that there’s no such thing as “it’ll do”. Either you make your work successful or you go home and try harder. When it comes to writing, endurance is everything.”
Work in China
Since graduating, Alex has written for a number of notable publications, including The London Magazine, Public Pressure, and The Rebel. He has helped facilitate workshops for Writing West Midlands, an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation created to support creative writers and creative writing in the West Midlands region.
In 2015, he started an MA in Creative Writing at Keele University and, the following year, was appointed guest speaker at a TEDx conference at the institution. After graduating with his MA in 2017, his interest in public speaking and work for Writing West Midlands contributed towards his move into Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
“Since graduating, I’ve wanted to teach in some capacity, using my knowledge to help others navigate the world around them,” he said. “I’ll be teaching in Xiamen for the next twelve months, with the opportunity to extend my contract at a later date. With the global demand for business English growing, there’s lots of potential to travel the world, looking for work in unexpected, interesting places. That being said, I hope to continue pursuing a career in academia, building on my skills as an educator.
“I also hope to build on my success as a writer, looking for opportunities in the publishing world. If I can continue to publish my work alongside a career in teaching, then I will have achieved my ambitions.”