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January 2002

"When I write, anything can come out. I rarely know where the words are taking me".

Karin Cope, First Prize winner of The Antigonish Review's annual poetry contest for her entry "The Aroma of Bees" is speaking animatedly about her life, her work and how she and two friends arrived in the Bay of Islands.

I have interrupted her work a second time at her home in Quoddy and I'm a bit embarrassed. I had neglected to take notes during an earlier interview but she takes no notice, graciously answering my questions again.

Behind her, an immense window looks out on the Bay of Islands, Karin Cope at home in Quoddy, Bay of Islandsstretching to forever on the distant horizon. The sun skips across the white caps and transforms the grey-green of the North Atlantic into a deep cobalt, brushed with a zillion pinpoints of golden light.

"The Bay of Islands captures your heart", says Karin.

Karin Cope holds a BA from Yale and a Doctorate from Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University. In 1993, Karin accepted an English professorship at McGill University, a position she retained for 6 years before discovering the property she and two friends co-purchased in 1999.

That year, viewing the Bay of Islands region for the first time from the deck of a sailboat, the trio became infatuated.

For Karin, who originates from Ohio (where 'nobody dreams of returning'), living in their spectacular oceanfront home with its deck washed white from salt spray is the culmination of a lifelong dream - to paint, to write and to be inspired by the sea. Artwork by Karin Cope

Karin has been fulfilling that dream for the last three years, writing and perfecting her art with the ocean at her doorstep.

An old shed on the property, once filled with machinery and fishing gear has been renovated into Karin's studio space. Locals often stop by for a chat while she works. She welcomes their visits.

"The people on the Eastern Shore are very resourceful. There are so many great storytellers here and I owe a lot to them. The ways their stories unfold contribute a great deal to my own stories. I am utterly charmed by the people who live here."

Since winning the 'Great Blue Heron' poetry prize from the highly regarded Antigonish Review, Karin has contributed critical works to the quarterly literary publication and now has a mentorship (WFNS) with Anne Simpson, Coordinator of the Writing Centre at St. Francis Xavier University.

Karin is also working on a novel and a collection of 'very, very short horror stories'. Although she considers herself more of a writer than a painter, Karin continues to create art using acrylics and treasured pieces of driftwood tossed up by the sea.

When I ask (because successful authors are always asked) what advice she would pass on to beginning writers, Karin replies that the most important learning tool is to write as much as you can. Karin Cope in the Bay of Islands on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore

"It doesn't matter what the topic is or how it sounds. I've kept a journal for over 20 years and it taught me to write. Often, I didn't know where the words would take me or what I would write until it was finished". Karin speaks with a tone that underscores her fascination with the strange ability of words to possess the conscious thoughts of the writer.

"Just do it", she says. Then she laughs at the obviousness of her own answer. "I mean, it's true, isn't it? Just doing it means you don't worry about spelling or grammar or who's going to get the movie rights. Thinking about a garden doesn't make the flowers grow either".

Her gaze shifts to a slightly opened window where the sound of the sea is omnipresent and the last of summer blooms dust the pane with pollen. A breeze gentles past us where we sit talking in the waning afternoon. It carries the scent of salt and spruce and something else quite extraordinary, something that could only be described by Karin Cope as 'the aroma of bees'.
- Gail Martin

Karin Cope Writers' Workshops (Critical Balance)
Contact Karin

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Highway7 E-zine, a publication of Hatch Media, is an electronic journal with a focus on commercial, historical, cultural and ecological issues concerning the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia in Canada. Topics include a growing resource of currently more than 300 articles. More articles and image galleries are added frequently as new material is brought to our attention. With Highway7.com, our primary aim is to serve, inform and reflect the rural communities on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia, as well as to acquaint new residents, visitors, tourists, and investors with the special beauty and enormous potential of our region.
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