Celebrating Manchester’s past, present and future: Alumnus wins 2024 micropoetry competition

Congratulations to Alumnus and friend of the University, Chris Grey, who won the annual University of Manchester micropoetry competition. This year’s competition celebrates the University’s 200th anniversary and challenged entrants to pen their work in no more than 280 characters.

Chris’ poem highlights the importance of seeing the past in the present, all the whilst looking forward to shape the future. 

Chris Grey (right) with competition judges and runners-up, 2024

Chris enacts these values in his everyday life, as a donor supporting talented and deserving students at Manchester. Chris has even chosen to continue his support far into the future with a gift in his will. His generosity will help others receive the same Manchester education he benefitted from by remembering the next generation of students.

The winning poem:

Chris in Manchester Hall of Residence, 1984

Judges included former University Chancellor and poet Lemn Sissay OBE, Creative Manchester Director and Professor of Poetry John McAuliffe, Manchester-based poet and critic Maryam Hessavi, and writer, opera-maker and illustrator, Rebecca Hurst.

Faced with a shortlist of the top entries, the four panel members discussed and eventually selected Chris’ entry as our 2024 winner.

Chris enjoying summer break, 1984

Chris received a BA (Econ) from Manchester University in 1987 before moving to UMIST where he completed a PhD in Organization Studies in 1992. Following his studies, Chris went on to work as an academic in the same field. Highly successful in his work, Chris was elected Professor of Organizational Analysis at Cambridge University. He then went on to finish his career at Royal Holloway, University of London where he is now an Emeritus Professor.

Now, Chris remains a kind friend of the University. Donating regularly to enable students facing difficulties to not just get into Manchester but to thrive while they are here. Chris has even made the incredibly personal decision to continue this support far into the future by remembering the University with a gift in his will.

This was the first poem that Chris has ever written. Curious about why Chris chose to pick up his pen now, we asked him to share his inspiration. He said:

As a student in Manchester, I fell in love with the city and that has never left me, so when I heard about the micro-poem competition, I was enthused to write an entry which captured how it both endures and changes, with the past leaving traces – just as will the present.

The image of a grand Victorian mansion that has now been turned into flats was partly about my memory of the kind of places I lived as a student. The mention of the Mechanics’ Institute is obviously a reference to what became the University, and that connects to my continued gratitude for my time there.

That’s the reason why I support the alumni fund, and have also left a bequest in my will, to support its work in the future. So, it’s rather like the poem, linking different times together.”

Thank you Chris for sharing your creativity, memories, and kindness with us. We are honoured to be as much a part of your past, present and future, as you are ours.

Want to follow in Chris’ footsteps and be a part of Manchester’s future?

Find out more about making a donation and/or remembering the University in your will here.

Whether you choose to enable talented and deserving students to access a world class education or fund life changing research, you are helping to create a greater Manchester and a better world.