Jasmine White was lead producer on the partnership between Poet in the City and the Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation. Together with Victoria Bastable, she put together a poetry film series to showcase contemporary voices in the UK poetry scene.

"The Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation had a good understanding of the US poetry scene, and of the traditional canon of poets, and were aware that the UK scene was flourishing. They wanted to tap into the contemporary poets writing work highlighting today’s issues. Their goal was to create an international platform to promote the exciting work happening and to showcase that talent.

They liked the work Poet in the City had done before, including our Between the Storeys project, in which we presented poetry in a visually appealing way. Poet in the City also has a reputation for presenting poetry read by top actors. Many actors have a personal passion for poetry, and we love to provide that space for them to read the lines of their favourite poets. We got in touch with actors such as Juliet Stevenson, Simon Callow and Paapa Essaidu to work on the project, and it was brilliant to hear their take on their favourite poets.

The Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation had a fair idea of the poets they wanted to pay tribute to, and I put them to the actors. Simon Callow knew he wanted to do Ecce Homo by David Gascoyne, Juliet Stevenson chose “Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson. Paapa Essaidu is inspired by Kayo Chingonyi and was excited to dramatically present his work.

We worked with director Matthew Thompson to develop a creative identity for the films. Together, we discussed the right setting to host the readings, and Matthew brought his experience of creating poetry films and his style (simple but unusual shots, such as a side-shot of the actors as they walk along) to bring the voice to the forefront. We didn’t want too explicit a setting – we were looking for dynamism to allow the viewers to use their imagination.

When filming Liz Berry’s poem The Republic of Motherhood, we were considering two approaches. The first was thinking about motherhood in our heritage and how it has changed over the centuries, and the second was a more intimate modern version of motherhood. Victoria did a huge amount of work to enable us to film in the Foundling Museum to suit the historical motherhood approach, while the second approach was to be filmed in my flat. We were allowed to film out of hours at the Foundling Museum, so had to be up very early to get the shots. After that, we headed to my flat in Haringey, and we filmed Liz performing the poem in my kitchen. While the cameras were rolling, she started tidying mugs away and making herself a cup of tea, which was completely improvised.

I’d like to thank the whole team who worked on the project: Victoria Bastable was a huge part of pulling the whole project together, Matthew Thompson’s eye and direction have made the videos look incredible. The Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation were so lovely and supportive and it was a real pleasure to work with them.