Maj Ragain (September 15, 1940- ). Midwest American Poet. Born into a small, southeastern Illinois farm town. Home tutored, raised on Vernor Lake. Maj finished a BA in English at Eastern Illinois University in 1962. In 1963, he earned a MA in English at the University of Illinois. He has been an "off and on" faculty member at Kent State University since 1969, where he obtained a Ph.D in 1990. An active representative of poetry in the Kent community(where he has resided permanently since 1980), he served for twenty years as host to the open poetry readings at the Brady Caf. The presence of others is commonplace in a Ragain poem, which takes aim at the spirit of the people he encounters, their stories, their tragedies, as well as his own search for the mystical life among family and friends.
His first collection of poems, The Olney Dreadnot Book, was published in 1979(Shellys Press). A chap precedes, Jimmie the Vincennes Flyer(1977). Five other chapbooks were published in the 1980's before another collection titled Fresh Oil, Loose Gravel appeared in 1996 from Lakewood, Ohio's Burning Press. The book was a finalist in the 1996 Chilcote Awards of Excellence for Poetry. Shortly to follow was Burley One Dark Sucker Fired, a collection from Bottom Dog Press in 1998, who also released Twist The Axe: A Horseplayer's Story in 2001.
The poem "Alton Memorial/To My Son, From Greece" was reprinted for the Diet Temple in 2002. Alton Memorial is the hospital where his son Sean was born. The hospital is also where Ragain spent part of his seventh year undergoing treatment for polio. The poem densely weaves a series of memories that come to a close with Sean's birth. He then persuades his son to "Quit your job. Come to Greece. We'll drink beer all day in the tavernas and talk baseball."
Between June 15 and September 4, 2004, Verde Gallery of Champaign, Illinois presented Vision to Verse/Verse to Vision: A Visual and Poetic Dialogue, a collaboration of "shared paintings and poetry, images and words, for two years..." featuring Ragain's poetry and Jessica Damen's paintings. A chapbook was published for this event.
In 2006, Pavement Saw Press released A Hungry Ghost Surrenders His Tacklebox.