(September 15, 1940 – April 19, 2018)
Maj Ragain was born into a small, southeastern Illinois farm town. Home-tutored and raised on Vernor Lake, he earned a BA in English at Eastern Illinois University, and an MA in English at the University of Illinois. He has been on faculty, off and on, at Kent State University since 1969, where he obtained his PhD in 1990. He is the author of seven chapbooks of poetry and five book-length collections, all of which contribute to Clouds Pile Up in the North: New & Selected Poems, forthcoming from Press 53 in the Fall of 2017. In 2004, Verde Gallery of Champaign, Illinois, presented “Vision to Verse/Verse to Vision: A Visual and Poetic Dialogue,” featuring poetry by Maj Ragain and paintings by Jessica Damen. Maj has served for more than thirty years as host to open poetry readings in Kent, currently at Last Exit Books, monthly, downtown. Poetry continues to build and walk that bridge between solitude and community. These poems are dedicated to the Kent community who midwifed them onto the page.
Praise for Maj Ragain and Clouds Pile Up in the North: New & Selected Poems
These poems hold so lightly what can’t be held—old queen asleep in her milkweed chamber, the full Hunter’s moon, Secondhand Rose and February dusk, the dragon’s egg nestled against the breastbone, the lost silver earring among the flowers. You will find in this book thirst and burning air, songs in the key of High Lonesome, truths maybe we were afraid to want, and a top-down fast-ride in the convertible of Delight. Friend, Fellow Traveler, if you wished to know whether there was a place set for you at the banquet, let me point you toward Maj Ragain’s poems. They are sustenance. They are sweet mortal joy.
—Lisa Coffman, author of Less Obvious Gods