Bruce Holbert is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop where he assisted in editing The Iowa Review and held a Teaching Writing Fellowship. His fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, Hotel Amerika, Other Voices, The Antioch Review, Crab Creek Review, The Spokesman Review, The West Wind Review, Cairn, RiverLit, Del Sol, and 94 Creations and has won annual awards from the Tampa Tribune Quarterly and The Inlander. His non-fiction has appeared in The New Orleans Review, The Spokesman Review, The Daily Iowan, Quarterly West, Ducts, The Sante Fe Writers Project, River Lit, The Portland Review, The San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review and The New York Times and his poetry in RiverLit, The Bacon Review, The Big River Poetry Review. He recently co-authored, with his wife, Signed, Your Student (Kaplan Press) a collection of remembrances of influential teachers recounted by prominent Americans. His first novel Lonesome Animals was released May of 2012 by Counterpoint Press. Hour of Lead, his second novel will be released July 2014, again by Counterpoint Press
Holbert grew up in the country described in Lonesome Animals and Hour of Lead, a combination of rocky scabland farms and desert brush at the foot of the Okanogan Mountains. What once was the Columbia River, harnessed now by a series of reservoirs and dams, dominates the topography. Holbert’s great-grandfather, Arthur Strahl, was an Indian scout and among the first settlers of the Grand Coulee. The man was a bit of a legend until he murdered Holbert’s grandfather (Strahl’s son-in-law) and made Holbert’s grandmother a widow and Holbert’s father fatherless.
Holbert’s paternal grandmother ran a one-room schoolhouse and the family ranch until she retired in the mid-Sixties and his maternal grandparents were among the immigrants who traveled west for the promise of New Deal work on the Grand Coulee Dam, where Holbert’s father worked, as well, operating a crane, for twenty years before his retirement.
Holbert’s father worked construction jobs throughout Holbert’s youth – Holbert lived in 23 different towns before reaching the age of six. Grand Coulee though remained home. Holbert grew up in the shadow of the dam and in the shadow of the West’s mythology, which loomed even larger. His youth was spent as an oddity (he read books), though he committed enough minor crimes to eventually fit in. He graduated high school despite such habits and entered Eastern Washington University, where his greatest accomplishment as an undergrad was forging the signatures of three deans to garner placement in a graduate writer’s workshop, taught by Kay Boyle. By the time he was found out, he was one of Ms. Boyle’s favorites and she insisted he stay. Holbert eventually graduated from Eastern Washington University with a BA in English and education. He teaches “school resistant” students at Mt. Spokane High School.