Updated: Sep 16
Heart of Hollywood's exclusive interview with the talented Dr. Michael Anthony Ingram of Quitessential Listening: Poetry Online Radio Podcast
By Katrenia Busch
What inspired you to produce and host Quintessential Listening?
The idea for a podcast was born out of a small grant awarded to The DC Poetry Project, Inc., a nonprofit organization I founded in 2010. The grant was awarded to us to create a podcast that promoted poetry and spoken word across the globe. As the podcast host, I interviewed poets and spoken word artists every week about the art and craft of poetry. Sadly, The DC Poetry Project folded in 2015. As a result, I took a long break from anything related to poetry. Due to my desire to talk to poets again, I started the podcast Quintessential Listening: Poetry Online Radio in 2018.
Image Credit: Dr. Anthony Michael Ingram
How many podcasts have you completed so far?
At the time of this writing, there have been 330 episodes (public and private).
What has been your most memorable interview/podcast?
The very first episode stands out to me as the most memorable. The guest on the podcast was Luis Fermin. He's a fantastic poet who lives near Washington, DC. As a spoken word artist, he is one of the best in the business. It was my first time returning to the world of poetry, so I was extremely nervous. I didn't know if the format would work or if anyone would listen. It had been a long time since I had been involved in the scene. Did anyone care that I was back? I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. It seemed that listeners enjoyed the format; Luis did an excellent job fielding my questions, and my nerves subsided considerably!
How has earning your B.A. in Radio, Television and Motion Pictures from the University of North Carolina helped prepare you for your current and future endeavors?
I believe that my degree prepared me for the role of host and producer of QLPOR podcast due to the following reasons: 1). I gained an understanding of the logistical and technical aspects of television and radio production. 2). I learned that scriptwriting is essential. I once had a professor say, "Words mean money!" 3). I also learned how important advertising is when it comes to promoting a business.
What has been your favorite part of motivational speaking?
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself becoming a motivational speaker. I was a very shy child growing up. My thinking was that I had nothing to say. No one had asked me to take a stand for a cause or fight against one. As I matured, I realized I, too, had a voice, and if there were topics worth discussing, I would speak out. Oftentimes, I speak out through poetry and spoken word. I love incorporating poetry into motivational speeches because it gives them a personal touch. Audiences seem to connect better with my stories when I tell them in a poetic form. Audiences may not understand my stories in full, but the feelings expressed in them are universal. We can build empathy through these feelings.
You were awarded the “Let Poetry Ring Award for Dedicated Service,” award, can you explain what it is and how that came about?
The DC Poetry Project, Inc., members, and board of directors presented me with the “Let Poetry Ring Award for Dedicated Service” in 2014. There was something wonderful about the DCPP organization. Our presence was felt everywhere. The Washington, DC area provided us with outreach opportunities to work with mental health agencies, hospitals, homeless populations, elderly populations, schools, libraries, and many other groups. At our annual dinner, I received this award for leading our community outreach projects. My memories of this nonprofit are treasured.
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What has been your favorite college to teach at and why?
Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, was my favorite place to teach. I worked there from 1997 – 2008. The university provided me with the opportunity to teach and research subjects within my discipline (Counselor Education and Supervision), publish my research in various journals and books, present and lecture about my research at national and international conferences, supervise student research, such as theses and dissertations, and stay current on current trends.
You were awarded the “Doctoral Graduate of the Decade Award (1990 - 1999)” can you explain more about this achievement and how it came about?
My first experience living outside of North Carolina was in 1991 when I moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to study at the University of Cincinnati. I had enrolled in the university to pursue a doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision. Despite my initial nervousness, I had an awesome experience! Besides meeting amazing people and having wonderful professors, I was able to explore new things. It was always my goal to come up with new ways to supervise counseling students. “I hear Michael thinking again” is what I often heard.
After much trial and error, I realized that a structured approach was needed to provide new counseling students with a deeper understanding of the intake process, which is the basis for a long-term, successful counseling relationship. Together with a group of doctoral students, I developed, and field tested the BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER forms. The forms were designed to facilitate relationship building, problem assessment, and goal setting. These forms were soon adopted by other universities for use in their counseling programs. I think the development of these forms are one of the main the reason I was awarded the “Doctoral Graduate of the Decade Award (1990 - 1999).”
What has been your favorite part of volunteering as the Chapter Vice President with the, “National Alliance on Mental Illness” over the last two years?
The importance of mental health cannot be overstated. However, seeking mental health services is often considered taboo in the African American community. In my volunteer work, I enjoyed conversing with other African American men about mental health. My greatest breakthroughs were often when I shared poetry about my mental health struggles.
Mental health issues had been a part of my family's history for generations. Sharing poems that addressed these issues seemed to normalize the fact that anyone can be affected by mental health issues at any time. A young man once said to me, "You are a doctor! How can you be depressed?" I explained, "Depression is not aware of my degree nor does it care about it."
What has been your favorite subject to teach at university level?
My favorite courses to teach were those aimed at assisting pre-service teachers to learn counseling skills. Having the ability to communicate effectively is valuable because teachers are in trenches, and working with students, parents, and administrators can be extremely challenging. Providing them with all the support they need is essential.
Do you have any future plans or ambitions?
With retirement upon me, I intend to continue hosting the QLPOR podcast. Aside from traveling and exploring some of the places I've always wanted to visit, I am also preparing to release a poetry collection in late 2023. It is tentatively titled,"When Cherry Blossoms Fall on Black Skin."
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Who would you say is your favorite poet?
My favorite poet is Claude McKay (1889-1948). McKay was a Jamaican-American writer and poet. He was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He wrote four novels and several collections of poetry, a collection of short stories, and two autobiographical books. I love his poetry because he wrote during an era when Black men were expected to be seen, but not heard. There are still some places where this is the case today.
What would you say is your favorite poem if you can choose?
If We Must Die (1919) by Claude McKay is my favorite poem. Despite the poem's usual portrayal as an African American rallying cry against racism and discrimination, it calls all oppressed people to fight against their oppressors—even if it means dying in the process. The poem has become a cry for freedom for marginalized and oppressed groups around the world.
Can you share a poem that you have written and tell me what inspired it?
As a spoken word artist, I want to continue my quest to escape beyond the bounds of more traditional forms of poetry and free myself from the rules of grammar. These are a few stanzas from my poem, Grammatically Incorrect.
I am not a conjunction or a preposition -
I cannot be either/and/or/butted out of existence!
Nor can I be relegated to a phrase, placed before the world
and expected to express an idea that is not my own.
I am not a verb -
I cannot be conjugated at will. I cannot change my tense, my mood, my voice
or any aspect of me to assimilate to others assumptions of perfection.
I am not an adjective -
I cannot be modified or subjugated.
My existence is my experience, because I can stand alone and live as a unique individual empowered and proud to be me.
The art of spoken word poetry helps me realize that it is powerfully creative to be “grammatically incorrect” and live artistically free!
What is your favorite quote and why?
In one of her sage quotes, Dr. Maya Angelou said, "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." I have found this to be one of the hardest lessons I have ever learned, but it has been handy in my life.
Who is your favorite author and why?
I enjoy the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky. In his novels, Dostoevsky illustrates human fallibility and the power of redemption, showing that we are not all hopeless. Even though it can seem that way when going through the experience.
To learn more about Mr. Ingram or Quintessential Listening Poetry podcast and to check out an episode please visit https://www.qlpor.com/episodes/.