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December 31, 2008

A poetic coming of age: Early days in Port inspire Pulitzer-nominated collection

Though the poems are not directly about the city he grew up in, Newburyport native Craig Bask says his collection, "Lost in Hindsight," chronicles his early life and coming of age in the Clipper City.

The book, published by Finishing Line Press, was recently nominated for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize as well as the 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize.

"I wrote this collection when I was younger, between 16 and 18, living in Newburyport," said Bask, 27, who writes under the name C.S. Leaf. "Newburyport is a small city, but a very important city and one I think of often."

Bask grew up on High Street and Moseley Avenue and attended the Belleville and Rupert A. Nock Middle schools before going to Newburyport High for two years. In 2001, at age 19, he moved away, living in New York and traveling around the country before getting married and settling in Lowell.

Now, Bask hopes his nominated collection of poetry can bring him back to his roots and the place he still calls home.

"My family has all moved away from Newburyport," Bask said, noting his parents left Newburyport for Spain before moving to western Massachusetts where they now reside. "But I'm still focused on Newburyport, and I do consider it my community."

Bask credits the vibrant arts community in Newburyport as providing his earliest influence. A longtime participant in the local Theater in the Open, he said most of his friends growing up were artists and musicians.

The poetry readings in Newburyport proved to be the jumping off point for "Lost in Hindsight," Bask said. Early drafts of the poems in the collection were originally read to audiences at the former Middle Street Foods and with the Powow River Poets at the Newburyport Art Association.

Bask sticks to more traditional forms of poetry in the book, covering subjects such as love, loss and coming of age.

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