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 has an MFA in Fiction and an MA in Literature from the University of Montana. She is the Program Officer at Humanities Montana and tutors for Hughes Tutoring. She taught for the Missoula Writing Collaborative and served as a teaching assistant and instructor for undergraduate literature and fiction courses at the University of Montana.
Director of Programs and Development
Julia Ohman is a writer and tutor living in Missoula, MT. She recently graduated from the University of Montana’s MFA in Fiction program, 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.
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.
Lexi Fredericks is a student at the University of Montana pursuing a career in secondary education with a major in English and a minor in Communication Studies. She is currently student teaching at Willard Alternative High School in Missoula, MT. She feels very lucky that she enjoys going to work each day as a teacher. She hopes to move somewhere warmer in the future so that she can paddle board year round.
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.
Community Outreach Coordinator
Marko Capoferri is currently studying creative writing at the University of Montana. Born and raised in New Jersey, he has worked on public lands in eight U.S. states. He is inspired and confounded daily by the power of the written word. His writings have appeared in Bugle and Revolutionary Poets Brigade - Los Angeles Anthology.