College teacher Kraft Rompf presents poets from all over...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

May 09, 1993|By Linell Smith

College teacher Kraft Rompf presents poets from all over 0) the place

Professor and writer Kraft Rompf intends to change the way college students consume poetry. His newly published anthology, "The McGraw-Hill Book of Poetry" ($29.95), co-written with Robert DiYanni, is the first to package such standard British and American giants as Chaucer, Shakespeare and Frost with Hebrew poets, American-Indian poets and poets from China, Japan, Scandinavia, France, Spain, Russia, Italy, Africa and the Caribbean.

Mr. Rompf, 45, teaches composition, introduction to literature and creative writing at Essex Community College. Author of two books of poetry, "Five Fingers" and "Skunk Missal," he grew up in Long Island and studied at the State University of New York at Stony Brook before graduating from the Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University in 1972. Included in the anthology is the poetry of Hopkins classmates Rodger Kamenetz and Duane Niatum.

Mr. Rompf lives in Ellicott City -- "not the historic district, I'm afraid it's real suburbia" -- with his wife, Shirley Johnsen Rompf, a professor at Catonsville Community College, and their 17-year-old daughter, Kristen.

He says he is "stunned" by the reappearance of rhyme and meter, a phenomenon he partially attributes to the popularity of rap music.

"Rhyme and meter were pronounced dead 20 years ago. Now they're all over the place," he says.

So far, T. Carlos Williams, a 23-year-old graduate of Morgan State University, has made one film he is "proud to show anybody."

"Da/BRIDGE," a four-minute clay-animated "musical, hip-hop, soul, funky musical tribute to James Brown," has earned a slew of honors, including a $2,500 prize from the Sony Innovators Awards Program, a national competition recognizing African-American achievements in music and film or video.

Recently, the Maryland State Arts Council gave Mr. Williams a $1,000 grant.

And last week, Mr. Williams learned that "Da/BRIDGE" took first place in the animation category in the 1993 Paul Robeson Awards Competition, sponsored by the Newark Black Film Festival in New Jersey.

In a field where few blacks are represented, Mr. Williams aims to create "accurate images of people of African descent." His prize and grant awards will go toward an animated series of original urban folk tales geared toward black children.

He seeks as well to advance the art of animation beyond "robots destroying the world. . . . If I were a child, I wouldn't be interested in this junk," he says.

Growing up in Capitol Heights, the self-taught animator drew constantly and fashioned puppet shows out of "bicycle wires and my father's socks." Mr. Williams continues to read voraciously, returning always to folk tales, a rich source of character, moral clarity and spiritual grounding for him.

"Those are the best stories to me," he says.

Life is busy for the artist and his wife, Melanche. Animafrica, their newly formed production company, demands a lot of energy, as do the couple's 9-month-old twins, Asukile and Sakile.

"We don't sleep much," Mrs. Williams says.

Have someone to suggest? Write Suzanne Loudermilk, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or call (410) 332-6156.

Stephanie Shapiro

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