Brent R. Oliver
Brent R. Oliver writes creative nonfiction, short stories, and novels from his home in Lexington, Kentucky. He credits Stephen King for darkening his adolescence and inspiring his initial urge to put pen to paper—and also blames him for the grotesque bent of Oliver’s resultant fiction.
A practicing Buddhist for over 15 years, Oliver has studied primarily on his own and meditates in a corner of his home office. Though he currently practices in the Vipassana tradition, he often finds himself sneaking into the local Zen center as well.
As his writing career begins to take shape, Oliver waits tables to pay the bills. His piece in this issue, “White Trash Buddhist,” details some of the difficulties faced by practitioners who live outside America’s traditional white-collar lifestyle.
Eido Frances Carney, whose daily morning ceremony to honor the hermit priest Ryokan appears in this issue (“The Way of Ryokan”), is the abbot of Fukujuji in Kurashiki, Japan.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Carney migrated to California in the ’60s, where she began Zen practice with Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi. After earning an MA in creative writing and English at San Francisco State University, she ordained at Entsuji, the temple where Ryokan trained. She completed priest training at Shoboji and returned to the United States to found Olympia Zen Center in Washington, where she also facilitated the building of a replica of Gogo-an, Ryokan’s famous mountain hut.
Of Ryokan she says: “He is the soul of Zen practice.”
G. M. B. Akash
G. M. B. Akash, whose photographs of the Bhutanese accompany “The Happiness Metric," is an award-winning Bangladeshi photojournalist whose work has been featured in such major publications as National Geographic, Vogue, Time, and Newsweek. He is the first Bangladeshi to win several prestigious photography prizes.
Akash, whose work often focuses on the impoverished populations of the developing world, says, “The best part about being a photographer is that I’m able to articulate the experiences of the voiceless . . . giving meaning and purpose to my own life.”
His book Survivors (2012) documents the invincibility of the human spirit against all odds. With proceeds from the book, Akash will help the book’s subjects to set up small businesses in order to obtain economic self-sufficiency.
Image 1: Photograph by Stacey Reynolds
Image 2: Photograph by J. McAfee
Image 3: Photograph by Bristy Chowdhory