Poetry. Based on eyewitness accounts, THE LAST STONE IN THE CIRCLE chronicles experiences of prisoners in a WWII German work re-education camp. Delving into the murkiness of human experience in the face of suffering, the poems consider the complicated choices people make in impossibly difficult circumstances and explore the sheer resilience of survival."In her extraordinary book THE LAST STONE IN THE CIRCLE, Irena Praitis examines the nature of evil as a central paradox of human experience. The Holocaust is the poet's occasion for an appraisal of social destruction. This serious, substantive topic is an essential addition to the genre of tragic literature."—Denise Low, author of JACKALOPE and MELANGE BLOCK, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-2009"These poems report from the human edge and as their readers we are changed. That they are visually simple is what makes them shocking—so few words revealing so much... of sadness, regret, outrage, pain. Underneath [it] all music offers itself everywhere. This is a clearly important book, worthy in its humanly difficult work."—Alberto Ríos, poet, memoirist, Arizona Poet Laureate 2013-2015"This powerful debut sears itself in memory, not by its vivid descriptions making the unimaginable painfully real, but with its relentless focus on seemingly inescapable moral complicity. Such questioning—and her universal compassion—argue eloquently the importance of Praitis's achievement."—April Ossmann, poet and editor, author of Anxious Music
Poet Irena Praitis is a mother, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, and an aunt. The author of THE LAST STONE IN THE CIRCLE (Red Mountain Press, 2016) and RODS AND KOANS (Red Mountain Press, 2018), her poems, translations, and essays have appeared in more than a hundred literary journals. A professor of creative writing and literature at California State University, Fullerton, she currently serves as the department chair and walks and runs the roads of Fullerton with her son.