Free Verse was founded in 2014 by four MFA students at the University of Montana who wanted to hang out with kids. After volunteering for two years, we applied for our first grant, got fiscal sponsorship from the Missoula Writing Collaborative, started a partnership with the Beat Within, and figured out a model for our organization. Our kids now publish their poems, stories, and art in a national journal of art and writing by incarcerated youth and in our annual Free Verse chapbook. It’s been incredible to see more of Montana, to see Free Verse grow, and to teach our favorite writing, from Junot Diaz to Beyonce, but our favorite part of the last two years has been getting to meet dozens of the coolest kids and most talented writers we know.
Sarah Kahn founded Free Verse in 2014. She has an MFA in Fiction and an MA in Literature from the University of Montana and is the Program Officer at Humanities Montana.
Director of Development
Julia Ohman is the Proposal Development Specialist at Montana & Idaho Community Development Corporation. She holds an MFA in Fiction from the University of Montana and received her BA from Knox College.
Bracha Tenenbaum received her BA in Philosophy from Columbia University. She has taught Hebrew and Judaic studies to grades K-5 and enjoys helping students through the writing process. She currently works as a computer programmer at a Missoula startup and spends her free time painting, trail running or playing Dominion.
Nathaniel H. Freeman received his BFA from the University of Montana, and his MFA from the School of Art + Design at Alfred University. His creative work, and educational experience, ranges from sculpture to multimedia, and he has been the recipient of several artist grants and awards. Nathaniel lives in Missoula with his wife, two sons, and a rangy mutt from the Flathead Reservation.
Lisbet Portman is a writer and researcher who focuses on addiction policy in the US. She is currently pursuing a masters in nonfiction writing at the University of Montana and received her BA in American Studies from Smith College in Northampton, MA. In her free time, she makes up reasons to dance, sing and draw stick figures.
Liana Imam is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Montana. She teaches undergraduate composition, is a fiction editor for CutBank Literary Magazine, and loves cooking noodles from every part of the world.
Taylor White received her BA from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, and is currently pursing a fiction-focused MFA at the University of Montana. In addition to grading for the University, she enjoys ranting about popular historical narratives’ failures, road trips with her pooch, mosaics and coffee. She has yet to master standing in snow.
Brittani Hissom received her MA in literature from the University of Montana where she focused on cultural appropriation. At UM she taught undergraduate classes on writing and literature. Brittani currently lives in Billings where she reads and hikes.
Ashley Warren has an MFA in fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She teaches writing at Montana State University Billings, the Big Sky Writing Workshops, and in Billings public schools through the nonprofit organization Arts Without Boundaries.
Anna Zumbahlen is pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of Montana, where she teaches undergraduate composition. She serves as managing editor for Carve Magazine, and she loves hiking, drinking tea, and hanging out on her porch with a book.