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Apr 13, 2012 7:00 PM

James Ragan - The Hunger Wall

RATTAPALLAX POETRY READING AND FILM FESTIVAL features some of the best short films from major international film festivals and distinguished poets. The featured readers are JAMES RAGAN, author of "The Hunger Wall" and NATHALIE HANDAL, author of "Love and Strange Horses." Also, CHRISTOPHER MERRILL, poet and director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, and MEENA ALEXANDER, author of "Illiterate Heart", winner of the PEN Open Book Award. Hosted by editor FLAVIA ROCHA.

 Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall,  New School,  55 W. 13th St., 2nd Floor, New York

JAMES RAGAN is an internationally recognized poet, playwright, screenwriter, and translator and, for 25 years, served as the Director of the University of Southern California’s Professional Writing Program.  A native of Pittsburgh, he earned his Ph.D. in English at Ohio University (1971) and Honorary Ph.D’s from London’s Richmond University (2001) and St. Vincent College (1990).  He recently completed Distinguished Visiting Professorships at the University of Oklahoma (2007-09), Bowling Green State University (2010), and Prague’s Charles University (1992-current) where, due to his Czechoslovak heritage, he was invited by President Vaclav Havel to serve as Poet-in-residence. 

He is the author of  seven books of poetry: In the Talking Hours, Womb-Weary, The Hunger Wall, Lusions, Selected Poems, Too Long a Solitude, The World Shouldering I, and co-editor of Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Collected Poems: 1952-1990.  Ragan’s honors include three Fulbright Professorships, two Honorary Doctorates, the Emerson Poetry Prize, eight Pushcart Prize nominations, a Poetry Society of America Citation, the Swan Foundation Humanitarian Award, and honorary induction in the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, among others.  

His poetry has been called “arresting and distinctive” (Richard Wilbur), “fine-grained and witty” (C.K. Williams), “lyrical and authoritative” (Josephine Miles) and “dominating… with insight that marks major poets” (Miroslav Holub).  He has been translated into 10 languages and has been recorded on Sony/Alfa Records, New Letters-on-the-Air, and in A Century of Recorded Poetry for Rhino Records/Warner Bros.

Ragan has also read his poetry at the United Nations (2001) and Carnegie Hall (2000 & 2002), and for six heads of state including Mikhail Gorbachev, Vaclav Klaus, and Korean Prime Minister Young-Hoon Kang, and has been honored as an ambassador of poetry.  In 1985 he was one of four poets, including Seamus Heaney, Robert Bly and Bob Dylan, invited to perform at the First International Poetry Festival in Moscow.  Other venues have included Tokyo, Beijing, Bangkok,  London, Paris, Dublin, Athens, Stockholm, Prague and Rio de Janeiro, etc.

Over the years Ragan has also written for the stage and film with original plays including “SAINTS” (Los Angeles, 1972)  and “COMMEDIA,” produced  in San Francisco (1984), Moscow  (1986 & 2008), Athens (2008), and Beijing (2008), among other venues. 

 His original screenplays include “FABER” (un-credited, producer Al Ruddy, Paramount Pictures, 1973), later produced as “THE VOYAGER,” starring Sam Shepard, 1991.  He also worked on staff for Al Ruddy during the making of “THE GODFATHER” and in various production capacities on  the Academy Award winner “THE DEER HUNTER,” “THE BORDER,” and more recently as script editor/collaborator on “THE HOUSE” (Czech/ Slovakia, 2011), winner of the Kieslowski Award for screenwriting at Cannes, a 2011 Variety Critic’s Choice Award, and the New Visions Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.  In 1981 Ragan wrote and directed the AMPAS sponsored film “EXILE,” based on the Iranian hostage crisis.

In 1996 BUZZ Magazine named Ragan one of the “100 Coolest People in Los Angeles: Those Who Make a Difference.”      


Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall, New School, 55 W. 13th St., 2nd Floor, New York


Apr 13, 2012 7:00 PM


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