Micropoetry competition 2024 – Celebrating Manchester’s past, present and future

The 2024 winner of our Micropoetry Competition has been chosen – our congratulations to Chris Grey on collecting our top prize of £500.

Our panel of judges gathered to deliberate this year’s entries, enjoying the variety of work covering 200 years of creativity in Manchester. This year, the competition celebrates the University of Manchester’s bicentennial year and challenged entrants to pen their work in no more than 280 characters, focusing on Manchester’s past, present or future.

Former University Chancellor and poet Lemn Sissay OBE returned to the judging panel alongside last year’s judges, Creative Manchester Director and Professor of Poetry John McAuliffe and Manchester-based poet and critic Maryam Hessavi.

We welcomed a new judge to the panel for 2024 as Rebecca Hurst, a writer, opera-maker and illustrator, joined the judges in choosing the winner. Rebecca has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester and was recently commissioned to write a poem celebrating the University’s 2024 bicentenary year called ‘Mast Year’.

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

Read our judges’ comments below:

This year’s winning entry takes us on some really interesting turns in such a short, condensed space. It encapsulates much of Manchester’s past but creatively leads us into this change in the final lines of the work.

Lemn Sissay / Honorary Chair of Creative Writing

We had a very good discussion of the submitted poems for this year’s competition. What really stood out to me with our winning entry was the way it neatly weaved the theme into the 280 character-limit. There’s also wit and a great sense of changing historical perspectives as it takes through its 200-year journey.

John McAuliffe / Professor of Poetry and Director of Creative Manchester

The poet sets us up then takes the poem in a different direction through the enjambment and use of word 'influence'. To me, this speaks of both online influencers, but also of the 'influence' that access to the internet gives to people around the world. I think it is an interesting and successful turn from historical to contemporary Manchester.

Rebecca Hurst / Writer, Opera-maker and Illustrator

The poem does well to open with 'mutton-chopped' - I enjoy that particular, domestic way in. This poem, alongside other entries, certainly gave us some great areas for deliberation and discussion of how elements of the writing are understood and interpreted. The flow and pace of the poem also makes it enjoyable to read.

Maryam Hessavi / Manchester-based poet and critic

This year’s poetry competition launched at our Light Up event on Wednesday, 17 January that signified the start of our 200th year. Entries closed on Wednesday, 10 April 2024.

The prize for the winning poem this year was £500, with £250 in prize money going to two runners-up. Each of the Under 18 category prize entrants received a £10 voucher for submitting an entry into this year’s competition.

The runner up prizes were awarded to entries from Hilary J Goodall and Ellie Grant.

This year our theme was centred on ‘200 years of creativity; Manchester’s past, present or future’. The theme allowed entrants to explore and to offer their own micropoem interpretations of our city’s past, present and future. The poems we discussed as judges took us back to Manchester’s industrial and colonial phase, when the University began, and the entries highlighted the significance of this era for us still, while other entries coupled drew on famous landmarks, people and musicians Manchester has given to the world. We talked about how the poems succeeded in building new pictures, or how they tell a story whilst showcasing the importance of the theme. We are delighted to have had so many brilliant entries this year, especially seeing how variously the poems presented different takes on the theme.

John McAuliffe / Professor Of Poetry And Director Of Creative Manchester

1st Place – Chris Grey

Mutton-chopped, he evening-gleaned his learning at the Mechanics’ Institute,
long-gone now.
Learning fostered wealth, the works, he prospered, built a house. Gabled, turreted;
bedsits now.
But where skivvies slept, she sells her influence, down fibre, across the world. 

Runner-up (1 of 2) - Ellie Grant

Look up. The chimney, old and collecting
rain, leans with the northern wind,
and the mould spores come, tapping on
the windowpane. They thought
it was a rotten log, and the papered walls were
falling leaves. Wherever have the
willow groves gone? Fester, fester. Let us in.

Runner-up (2 of 2) – Hilary Goodall


As students
we shared a house
on Great Western Street
I worked on microfiche
on a fragment of OE
before AI
with a tooth abscess and
power cuts in the Library
three years before
the Moss Side Riots.
Our house was burnt down
and we wondered what happened
to the kitchen mouse