Bruce Holbert is a graduate of the University of Iowa 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 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 and The Daily Iowan, and his poetry in RiverLit. 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. The paperback release is scheduled for May 2013.
Holbert grew up in the country described in Lonesome Animals 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. A fictionalized Strahl is the subject of Lonesome Animals.
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 currently teaches “school resistant” students at Mt Spokane High School in Mead, Washington. Holbert has been married to his wife, Holly, for twenty-six years and has three children Natalie 21, Luke 19 and Jackson 18.