Alexis Krasilovsky
Alexis Krasilovsky


What Memphis Needs

Contrasting the black and white cultures of Memphis, Tennessee, What Memphis Needs is based on a poem by Alexis Krasilovsky, written in the Free People's Poetry Workshop of the internationally renowned "prison poet," Etheridge Knight. From ponies running through the Memphis cottonwoods to a girl running across the construction site of Mud Island, from white kids in a West Memphis parade throwing candy at black bystanders to a Bible reading in the Lorraine Motel, and from rock 'n rollers to marquee lights on Beale Street, this video provides a searing cross-section of Memphis history and society.

What Memphis Needs VHS Cover

Winner, Poetry Film/Video Festival (San Francisco), Ann Arbor Film Festival Tour; "PBS' "The 90's"; International Poetry Festival (Boston); Filmforum (Los Angeles); Brooks Museum "Cinemasterpieces" (Memphis); Museum of Modern Art (New York).

FVPS Official Selection:
FVPS Official Selection

I'm thrilled to report that "What Memphis Needs" - a short film based on a poem that I wrote in Etheridge Knight's Free People's Poetry Workshop back in the mid-1970s - got a new life in the 2020 Film & Video Poetry Symposium October 2020!

Calvin Brown
Calvin Brown at the Lorraine Motel, filmed in 1977 (production still for "What Memphis Needs")

Reseda Mickey, Alexis Krasilovsky and Sabrina Simmons, filming outside the Lorraine Motel in 1990 for "What Memphis Needs"

Available on Some Women Writers Kill Themselves DVD.

6 minutes, 16mm film, edited on I" video, color (1991) A Rafael Film Production.

Category: Poetry Film

Plot Keywords: Memphis , harmonica, racism, protest poems, poetry

View a clip of  What Memphis Needs

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Etheridge Knight

Etheridge Knight, in whose Free People's Poetry Workshop the poem "What Memphis Needs" was written.


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Beale Street DVD Cover
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Mr Boogie Woogie DVD Cover
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The Official Website of Alexis Krasilovsky
See Also: Women Behind The and