My Year of Dirt and Water: Journal of a Zen Monk’s Wife in Japan

No. Pages: 276
Dimensions: Trim 5 x 8 x 5/8”
Format: Trade Paper
Price: $16.95/ $22.99 CAN
ISBN: 978-1-61172-042-6 (p), 978-16-1172-930-6 (e)



Description

Married to a Zen monk in training, an American woman in Japan chronicles her own year of growth and discovery.

In February 2004, when her American husband, a recently ordained Zen monk, leaves home to train for a year at a centuries-old Buddhist monastery, Tracy Franz embarks on her own year of Zen. An Alaskan alone—and lonely—in Japan, she begins to pay attention.

My Year of Dirt and Water is a record of that journey. Allowed only occasional and formal visits to see her cloistered husband, Tracy teaches English, studies Japanese, and devotes herself to making pottery. Her teacher instructs her to turn cup after cup—creating one failure after another. Past and present, East and West intertwine as Tracy is twice compelled to return home to Alaska to confront her mother’s newly diagnosed cancer and the ghosts of a devastating childhood.

Revolving through the days, My Year of Dirt and Water circles hard questions: What is love? What is art? What is practice? What do we do with the burden of suffering? The answers are formed and then unformed—a ceramic bowl born on the wheel and then returned again and again to dirt and water.

 

About the author

 

Originally from Alaska, Tracy Franz lived in Japan for ten years. She now resides in Nova Scotia with her husband—Soto Zen priest Koun Franz—and their two children. Her essays have most recently appeared in Lotus Petals in the Snow: Voices of Canadian Buddhist Women (Sumeru, 2016), Lion’s Roar, and Tricycle Magazine. Find her at tracyfranz.com

 

Praise

"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
 
"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. Franz writes wonderfully of her loneliness, of her strictly formal and short-lived visits to her husband, of the hardships of love, of her mother's bout with cancer back in Alaska, of her Japanese students (she teaches English as a second language), of the cross-cultural difficulty of language, and perhaps most tellingly of her year-long long study of pottery making with a very stern Japanese mentor. One teacup after another is rejected as imperfect. What more could be said about Zen study? I urge this book upon readers without reservation."
John Keeble, author of seven books, including The Shadows of Owls.

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