Greenfield resident explores topics ranging from racism to mental health in poetry reading

  • Greenfield resident Kimberly “Kemah” Wilson’s photograph and poem on display at The LAVA Center. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Greenfield resident Kimberly “Kemah” Wilson reads her poetry at The LAVA Center on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer
Published: 7/24/2022 3:03:34 PM
Modified: 7/24/2022 3:00:32 PM

GREENFIELD — Kimberly “Kemah” Wilson started her poetry reading by keeping the mood light with a song about meatballs.

From this song, the Greenfield resident transported listeners across a variety of topics including LGBTQ pride, racism and America’s future.

Wilson presented her reading at The LAVA Center on Saturday afternoon. Most people in the crowd knew Wilson personally and said they were touched by her work.

“The pieces had such a span of thought and insight,” commented Wilson’s friend, Mindy Bragon.

Wilson explained she started writing when she was 12, but was not encouraged to pursue writing by her mother. In her adult life, she struggled with mental illness, eating disorders and substance abuse. Her writing became dark, but as she grew healthy again, she turned to writing as a way to find light in her life.

Her parodies and poems exhibit complex themes. In her poem about racism titled, ‘Whys Yous Scared of Mes’ (Why are you scared of me) she writes, “Every time I leave my house, I have to be a good Black person.” The poem dissects how racism has affected different aspects of her life.

One song Wilson sang to the tune of “She’ll Be Coming ’Round the Mountain,” speaks about her experience in inpatient care. It chronicles the daily activities, and gives listeners an understanding of the difficulties of the process.

‘Words on Words’

Wilson performed this reading as part of “Words on Words,” a community art show. Michael Travisano invited local artists to submit written works, as well as art that complicates what we think of as writing, communication and art.

“Michael is a lover of words,” explained Jan Maher, co-coordinator of The LAVA Center, “and that is what inspired the show.”

Each artist who submitted written pieces was invited to perform what they submitted, and give an in-depth reading of their other works. Cindy Snow and Maher will give the last reading for the “Words on Words” show on Thursday, July 28, at 6 p.m.

Bella Levavi can be reached at or 413-930-4579.


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