James Ragan

Los Angeles, CA 90035-2911

Author's Bio

Author of 9 books and translated into 15 languages, he has read for the U.N, Carnegie Hall and for 7 heads of state including Czech President Vaclav Havel, So. Korean Prime Minister Young-Hoon Kang and for Mikhail Gorbachev at Moscow's Int. Poetry Festival (with Seamus Heaney, Robert Bly and Bob Dylan). Has appeared on CNN, C-SPAN, NPR, PBS and in 30 Anthologies. His poems have been described as "arresting and distinctive" (Richard Wilbur), "sparing no passion in believing they sing" (Seamus Heaney), "fine-grained and witty" (C.K. Williams), and "dominating--with insight that marks major poets" (Miroslav Holub). His plays "The Landlord" and "Commedia" have been produced in the U.S, Beijing, Moscow, Athens, Prague etc. Worked as a screenwriter at Paramount Pictures for Prod. Al Ruddy and in production on Oscar winners "The Godfather" and "The Deer Hunter" as well as "The Border," "Dom" (The House), and "The Rising." He has a Ph.D. and served for 25 yrs as Director of USC's Professional Writing Program and for 25 summers as Distinguished Professor of Poetry at Charles U. in Prague. In 1996 Buzz Magazine named Ragan one of the "100 Coolest People in Los Angeles: Those Who Make a Difference." He is the subject of the 2016 Arina Films documentary, "Flowers and Roots, Ambassador of the Arts," winner of the Remi Platinum Prize at the 49th Houston Int. Film Festival.

Publications and Prizes

In the Talking Hours
(University of Southern California Press, 2004)
, Lusions
(Grove Press, 1996)
, The Chanter's Reed
(Salmon Publishing, 2019)
, The Hunger Wall
(Grove Press, 1995)
, The World Shouldering I
(Salmon Publishing, 2013)
, Too Long a Solitude
(University of Oklahoma Press, 2009)
, Womb Weary
(Carol Publishing, 1990)
, Yevgeny Yevtushenko: Collected Poetry, 1952-1990 (co-editor/ trans.)
(Henry Holt, 1990)
Antioch Review, BOMB Magazine, Epoch, Los Angeles Times, North American Review, Ohio Review, Poet Lore, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Sewanee Review, The Nation, World Literature Today, The Ontario Review
Prizes Won: 
3 Fulbright Professorships, 2 Honorary Doctorates (London's Richmond U. and St. Vincent College), the Emerson Poetry Prize, 9 Pushcart Prize nominations, PSA Gertrude Claytor Award Finalist, London's Troubadour Int. Poetry Prize Finalist, Oklahoma Book Award Finalist, Walt Whitman Book Award Finalist, a TV Telly Award, Valerie Swan Foundation Humanitarian Award,  Phi Kappa Phi Creative Artist Award, Medal of Merit (Ohio University), Presidential Medal (St.Vincent College), USC 25th Anniversary Tribute, The Remi Platinum Prize at 49th Houston Int. Film Festival, The Silver Award at the International Independent Film Awards, etc. 

More Information

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Born in: 
Duquesne, PA
Raised in: 
Pittsburgh, PA
From "The Astonishment of Living" for my daughters, Tera and Mara And where the stars ignite in showers, let them fall. Recite the moment's song that tomorrow wind will bring in squalls. Free the century's melody as you would a line or burden down a well. Allow the astonishment of living one reed or willow, feeding swallows through a hungry night until they weary of elation. Let all buckets fill, all loss be light. I saw two talking girls weaving rainbows in their eyes and daughtering in me their dreams, I grew astonished by all conception, by the frail grandeur of life.
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Last updated: Jan 15, 2019