Poet and author whose best-known works include Listening to the Wind (1995) and Poetry under the Stars (1979). He was named the North Carolina Poet Laureate for life in 1982.
He attended Barton College in North Carolina and subsequently worked for a brief time as a reporter for the San Antonio Evening News. Later, he worked in the editorial department of The Raleigh News & Observer in his native North Carolina.
Composer Elena Ruehr based a 2005 musical work, "Exodus," on four of Ragan's poems.
He was born in Berea, North Carolina to William Ragan and Emma Long Ragan. He wed Marjorie Usher in 1939.
He admired the work of the renowned Czech existentialist author, Franz Kafka.