I think I hail from a few different places, and these places all weave their way into my poetry.
I was born to parents in the US military–my father was an officer in the US Air Force and my mother was a Civilian Intelligence Officer for the US Navy. I was born on Andrew’s Air Force Base in Suitland, Maryland. Nine months later, we were transferred to Hickam Air Force Base on Oahu and my sister was born there. We stayed on Oahu for 3 years before being transferred back to AAFB. My parent’s were able to live off-base then, and they bought a small farm in Calvert County, Maryland, when it was really just undeveloped countryside. I spent the rest of my childhood running through the woods and playing with my sister and the animals on our 15 acre farm. We were about 5 miles away from the Chesapeake Bay, so a lot of my memories are of time spent on the water with my mom’s Navy buddies too.
A part of me is also “from” the Shenandoah Mountains, River, and Valley of Virginia. I spent summers there at a camp called “Caroline Furnace”–built in the woods and mountains over a stretch of gorgeous land near several National Parks. There’s a timelessness in that place for me.
What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
Home for me lives in the places and people I love. It calls to me from these several spaces. I feel connected to them no matter where I am, and I think that’s because in them I discovered things I love about myself–a deep appreciation for the natural world, a nurturing of life in every form it takes, how resilience in the outer world teaches us how to be resilient ourselves.
What turns you on creatively?
So many things. Generosity of spirit, the mystery and magic of nature, regeneration, and the immeasurable things– like our ability to heal and our ability to love.
What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
I’m pretty sure by now that I’m more in love with sound in language, and it’s ability to transfer emotion. I love words that both convey a meaning and evoke a sensation. Like the quiet words that comfort us–Henry Vaughan’s last line of “The Night,” rocked my world when I studied it in college:
Where I in him / might live invisible and dim
Because it argued a radical religious idea that I loved–that man could know his God better in darkness than in light–AND because the sound of the words he chose to convey that thought echoed the hush of night. I’m not a religious person, but I got what he was trying to say. Those soft vowels, and quiet consonants, showed me how he found his comfort in this busy world.
What is your pet peeve?
Self-promotion– how much PR on your end has to happen to get your writing out there and get it published. I see a lot of young writers on social media tailoring their online personalities to up how many people follow them. I literally just joined twitter and started sharing publications, but the whole “follow me” thing exhausts me. I like to think this is a new problem in the literary world, but then I remind myself of the serial self-promotion of writers like Byron. It’s a necessary evil.
What defines Katy Santiff?
Well, I hope my poetry defines me in a way that I never have to explicitly. I think I am a combination of the things I love–and I write about the things I love.
Katy Santiff has written poetry in various forms all her life. She believes in densely-packed poems, preferring them to be mouthfuls when read aloud. A lifelong Marylander, she loves water-side living. She currently lives in Edgewater, Maryland with her wife. Her published poems can be found in Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine and Spillwords Press.