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Sat, March 1st: Join a Harbor Seal Poetry Writing Workshop

Max Wheat is wise and wonderful. This event should be powerful:

Join a Harbor Seal Poetry Writing Workshop

Saturday, March 1st
10 A.M. – 2 P. M.
Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center,
Jones Beach State Park

Phone 516- 679-7254 for reservations. Limit of 20.
$3 Donation. Bring brown bag lunch

Features talk by staff naturalist, then staff-guided guided walk from Parking Field 10 westward to near the Meadowbrook Parkway Bridge where you can observe the Harbor Seals that winter in those waters. Dress warmly and, if you have them, bring binoculars.

Returning to the center, Nassau County Poet Laureate Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr., conducts a poetry writing session followed by sharing of participants’ Harbor Seal poetry.

Directions: South on Wantagh Parkway to Bay Parkway (first exit after toll plaza, before Ocean Parkway), west on Bay Parkway, follow signs to Nature Center at West End. Or Meadowbrook Parkway south to Ocean Parkway, exit at West End exit, which is just after the draw bridge, then follow signs to Nature Center.


The workshop is part of a project of the poet laureate and the Nassau County Poet Laureate Committee, Paula Camacho, Farmingdale, coordinator, to build a body of Long Island natural and human history poetry – not that it hasn’t been done for years. The famous 19th Century poet, Walt Whitman, wrote poetry about Montauk Point, the ocean beaches and the Pine Barrens. Now it is purposeful. Wheat is encouraging current Long Island poets to build their own repertories of Long Island Poetry that they can take before organizations in reading programs.

Writing free-lance nature articles for Newsday’s Part II, Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr., reports in a story, Feb 25, 1972, that about 50 harbor seals were being seen in Long Island waters from December to May “bobbing their puppy-like heads above the surface or lolling like pampered royalty on banks, beaches and islands.” By the mid-80s biologists were estimating 400 a winter according to Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson in their Newsday article, February 14, 1995, “A Surge of Seals.” By 1995, they said, the annual estimate was 4,000 including increased appearances of Arctic and hooded seals.

Harbor Seals

Wanderers from New England waters
sleeping on rocks at Montauk
another floating way out on a chunk of ice
small herd moving off-shore at Amagansett
seals hunting fish in Shinnecock Inlet
where Grandmother always took me

Even with a nor’easter coming up we’d stay
snow slanting into our faces
“Look, there’s one!” she’d shout
I could barely see the dark shape of a head in the whitecaps

But on a clear day
the sun brightening the snow on the dunes
we’d get close-ups of their round faces looking at us
“Seals,” she’d call pointing them out
to some disbelieving couple who’d run back
to bring others

Grandmother: shepherd of seals

Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr.©

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