Roger Pfingston was born and raised in Evansville,
Indiana, and later he attended Indiana University, graduating
in 1962. He taught English and photography in a Bloomington,
Indiana, high school in from 1967 until his retirement in
1997. He still lives in Bloomington today, where he continues
to pursue both his writing and photography, which often focuses
on Midwestern landscapes.
Pfingston's poetry covers many different topics,
but nature has played a role as his muse from time to time.
He says that the environment inspired him from a very early
age, because he grew up so close to it. In an interview he
I suspect that how and where I grew up in
and important role in shaping my attention to the natural
world. Even though I was born in a fairly large city in
southern Indiana, I spent most of my early years living
and playing near a large wooded area which was split down
its long, lengthy middle by Pigeon
Creek. Behind our house was a truck farm where guineas
and a jungle of vegetables offered both visual and audible
delights for a young boy and his buddies out looking for
adventures. That, coupled with visits to farm country near
Chrisney and Rockport,
Indiana, where my mother’s family lived, created some
profound impressions with regard to Indiana environment.
Pfingston still lives close to nature, and has
for quite some time. He has lived to see the destruction that
comes with an ever-increasing human population and need for
space and utilities:
Early on in Bloomington
[my wife and I] bought a house just outside of town, and
even though urban
sprawl has encroached somewhat on our small one-acre
haven over the past thirty years, we still enjoy the woods
in front of us, the woods in back of us.... (Email interview)
Not surprisingly, his poetry focuses on some
of these same topics: the environment, admiration for the
beauty of nature, and the encroaching effects of human society
in “Sweet Void,” a poem that
sprawl, he writes about watching the land around him slowly
be overtaken by human development. The construction of a housing
addition where there had once been fields creates a feeling
of emptiness that is compounded by the fact that the addition
does not have any people living there yet. His imagery places
weeds side by side with empty buildings and a stream now dried
from the effects of the human development. It is a poignant
reminder of what is lost to construction:
...I quick time down
a street still new though poured
two years ago, empty fields on either side
where lot numbers lie among the weeds,
streetlamps lighting cul-de-sacs devoid
of traffic, the sum of this addition
Skirting the woods, the creek
gurgles August dry below the quarry
that never stops—a developer's nightmare....
the Field,” Pfingston writes about the contrasting
sides of natural beauty. Bird bones being crunched underfoot
are presented alongside blooming flowers. Pfingston shows
the whole of nature, which is both life and death, creation
In the dim light of dusk leaves stir over the ground
like the dead bodies of birds,
their bones crunching
beneath my feet as I enter
...I've come to break gray blooms
for a winter bouquet. (Stoutes Creek Road 7)
mentions nature briefly in other poems as well. In Nesting,
for example, “April in Indiana”
describes what it's like to live with tornadoes in the country,
a topic that Hoosiers know well. In the collection Something
Iridescent, “The Buckeye Bush”
and “The Boulder” both show Pfingston's
admiration for the beauty of the land. In “The
Presence of the Trees,” he writes about photographing
the trees, and how they escape the camera.
Pfingston's poetry shows his appreciation for
the natural beauty of Indiana, both lovely and dark, and his
understanding of the impact of humans on that natural world.
Pfingston, Roger. Email interview.
15 November 2002.
---. Nesting. West Lafayette,
IN: Sparrow Press, 1978.
---. Something Iridescent:
Poems and Stories. Daleville, IN: Barnwood Press, 1987.
---. Stoutes Creek Road.
Bloomington, IN: Raintree Press, 1976.
---. "Sweet Void." Poetry
Magazine. Mar. 2000. 15 November 2002. <http://poetrymagazine.com/archives/2000/
Pfingston, Roger. Stoutes Creek
Road. Bloomington, IN: Raintree Press, 1976. Front Cover.
Simmons Island Online
Void, and Not Those Monday Blues Online