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cover of Stoutes Creek RoadRoger Pfingston
(1940- )

Hoosier Connection: Roger Pfingston is a lifelong Hoosier, who was born in Evansville, Indiana, and has lived most of his adult life in Bloomington.

Works Discussed: "Sweet Void," "Entering the Field," "April in Indiana," "The Buckeye Bush," "The Boulder," "The Presence of Trees"

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 stated,

I suspect that how and where I grew up in Evansville played 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 upon it.

For example, in “Sweet Void,” a poem that discusses urban 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
being zero.
Skirting the woods, the creek
gurgles August dry below the quarry
that never stops—a developer's nightmare....

In “Entering 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 and destruction:

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
the field....

...I've come to break gray blooms
for a winter bouquet. (Stoutes Creek Road 7)

Pfingston 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.


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