Read “A Search for America,” a narrative history of Free River Press.


1989. Writing workshop is established at MATTHEW 25, a shelter for homeless men in Nashville. National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” airs a story on the workshop. Steven Meinbresse, Coordinator of Homeless Services for the State of Tennessee and Robert Wolf decide to create a nonprofit press to publish homeless writings.

1990. Writing workshops for the homeless are established in Memphis by Murray Hudson and in Knoxville by formerly homeless poet Diana Schooler. Free River Press is incorporated as a nonprofit educational corporation.

1990-1991. Free River Press publishes six books by the homeless.

1991. Nashville workshop leader Robert Wolf moves to rural Iowa and establishes a workshop with local farm families. The first farm book, Voices from the Land, is featured on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and in an AP story that runs in almost every major newspaper in the country.

1992-1994. Small Midwestern towns begin sponsoring 3-day Free River Press writing workshops for residents, resulting in a series of self-portraits of rural villages.

1995. “CBS Sunday Morning” produces a feature on Free River Press. The press publishes its first regional anthology, Heartland Portrait.

1995-Present. The press runs workshops in west Tennessee and Helena, Arkansas, collecting stories for an anthology of Mississippi Delta writings.

1997. Free River Press publishes The Northeast Iowa Book, the first multi-county regional development book of its kind.

1999. Oxford University Press publishes a collection of Free River Press writings, An American Mosaic: Prose and Poetry by Everyday Folk.

StaffREVmW2001. Work begins on a six-county regional development book, The Iowa River Corridor Book, cosponsored by Grinnell College and the Iowa Valley RC&D.

2002. Free River Press conducts workshops in Manhattan and Teaneck, New Jersey for Jews and Palestinians. Annual New York City writing workshops at Riverside Church begin.

2003. Publication of Violence in the Holy Land, written by Jews and Arabs.

2004. Free River Press conducts workshops at the 63rd Street YMCA in New York. The Riverside Church workshop writers read at The Bowery Poetry Club in New York City.

2006-Present. Robert Wolf lives half-time in New Mexico, conducting workshops across northern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle.

2006. The first New Mexico volume, Ayer y Ahora, is published. Wolf conducts five- day writing workshop at The Pueblo of Pojoaque.

2007. Free River Press wins the Heritage Preservation Award for Publication from the State of New Mexico for Ayer y Ahora.

2008. The early history of Free River Press, “In Search of America,” appears in the January 2008 issue of “The Journal of Rural Mental Health,” published by the Idaho State University Press.

2009. FRP publishes a second, enlarged edition of Heartland Portrait: Stories from the Rural Midwest.

2010. FRP launches its weekly half-hour radio program, “American Mosaic,” featuring FRP stories, read by their writers.

2011. “American Mosaic” is aired regularly in 8 states. Mixed Beans: Stories from New Mexico, is published.

2012. Wolf organizes a group of volunteers to research a revised SCAN for The Northeast Iowa Book.

2013. Mississippi Delta blacks record their stories; Texas cowboys and wives write about ranch life.

2014-15. Work begins on American Portraits, a national anthology of stories from the Midwest, Mississippi Delta, Southwest, and Great Plains.
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