“In a year apart from everyone she loves, Tracy Franz reconciles her feelings of loneliness and displacement into acceptance and trust. Keenly observed and lyrically told, her journal takes us deep into the spirit of Zen, where every place you stand is the monastery.” Karen Maezen Miller, author of Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden

“Crisp, glittering, deep and probing. . .”  Dai-En Bennage, translator of Zen Seeds

“My Year of Dirt and Water incorporates Zen, pottery, living abroad, and Franz’s past and present with skillful delicacy, connecting these elements as if by analogy. Traversing territory defined by lack, My Year of Dirt and Water offers the singular pleasure of a story that ‘obscures but is not obscured’.” Foreword Reviews

“Tracy Franz’s My Year of Dirt and Water is both bold and quietly elegant in form and insight, and spacious enough for many striking paradoxes: the intimacy that arises in the midst of loneliness, finding belonging in exile, discovering real freedom on a journey punctuated by encounters with dark and cruel men, and moving forward into the unknown to finally excavate secrets of the past. It is a long poem, a string of koans and startling encounters, a clear dream of transmissions beyond words. And it is a remarkable love story that moved me to tears.”  Bonnie Nadzam, author of Lamb and Lions, and co-author of Love in the Anthropocene

“A popular tenet in Buddhism is the koan, a paradoxical question that monks are to meditate on in order to understand or unravel higher truths. My Year of Dirt and Water is filled with questions – on love and loneliness, on fulfillment and failure – and as Tracy ponders them (both behind and away from the potter’s wheel), it prompts a self-examination by the reader of their own state of awareness, happiness, and acceptance. . . there’s a hypnotic effect to Tracy’s storytelling – unrushed yet utterly page turning – that will make this a hard book to put down.”  Mandy Bartok, Uncovering Japan

“Many of her journal entries embody haiku-like precision: an experience, a query, something that may or may not be a transcendence. . . Life seen through a glass darkly, but with grace.” Sumeru Press

“Tracy Franz’s memoir, My Year of Dirt and Water, is a remarkable account of a woman’s sojourn, largely in Japan, while her husband undergoes a year-long training session in a Zen Buddhist monastery. Difficult, disciplined, and interesting as the husband’s training toward becoming a monk may be, it is the author’s tale that has our attention here.” John Keeble, author of seven books, including The Shadows of Owls