Poetry Competition Judges

The closing date has passed and the entries are in.  Now the tough job of judging th Talking FreELY poetry competition can begin.  Of course no competition would be complete without a judging panel and I’m delighted to announce the three judges who will have the unenviable task of adjudicating for us this week.

The winning entry will be read out at our event on 4th November where we hope you will join us for coffee and Talking FreELY.

Kate Arthur – Fenland Poet Laureate


Kate Caoimhe Arthur is the Fenland Poet Laureate for 2017. Kate is originally from Northern Ireland, and has lived in Cambridgeshire since 2009, where she is raising her family. She takes inspiration for her writing from the immediate Fen edge landscape which is closest to her in Cottenham.


In her year as FPL Kate is working on a collaboration with local artist, the esteemed Fine Art Printmaker, Iona Howard.  Both Kate and Iona plan on creating new work together and hope to show it together. Kate has run events at Ely Folk Festival and the Fen Edge Festival, and in Ely Cathedral. She is starting to submit her poetry to magazines. Kate has started a blog, and you can keep up to date with her activities at thelongdrove.wordpress.com

Majeda Issacs – English teacher

IMG_9569Ely resident Majeda Isaacs is an English teacher, examiner and mother of two. Originally from Bangladesh, Majeda is a graduate of Cambridge University and postgrad of Oxford university.

Majeda is passionate about poetry, especially Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Wilfred Owen’s First World War poems.  Recently she has been enjoying work by Carol Ann Duffyand Simon Armitage.

On Talking FreELY Majeda says “I think its wonderful to provide a safe, nurturing and reassuring space for people to come together and share their thoughts, ideas and concerns”.



Mary Durkacz – Talking FreELY Trustee

Mary DA teacher and headteacher for most of her working life, Mary worked with primary, secondary and special education pupils and for a time with boys excluded from mainstream, her hardest but one of her most rewarding jobs. A widow since 1993, she lived in Edinburgh all of her life but decided to retire to Ely to be closer to her daughters and four grandchildren. Mary’s hobbies are singing (in Witchford Voices), running (slowly!) and she is passionate about SE Asia, where she has taught in Myanmar or volunteered in Cambodia every year since she retired. She is learning to speak and write Myanmar.

Mary is interested in developing and maintaining good health in mind, body and spirit and is very excited and pleased to be supporting Talking FreELY.