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NMSU student explores love, loss, anxiety and happiness in new poetry book

“let’s please be alive while we can.

let’s get tattoos that make us laugh.

let’s talk until 3 am, then wake up early to see

the sunrise.

let’s sing like we’ve never heard our own voices.

let’s hurt like we mean it.”

The lines above are an excerpt from a poem in “If Butterflies Could Talk,” a poetry book released in January of this year. Containing 21 original poems, the collection was written by Megan Kirchhofer. It is her first poetry book.

A full-time student at NMSU, Kirchhofer also has two jobs and is president of the NMSU Resident Housing Association. While her day-to-day schedule is very busy, she still finds ways to write — and the commitment has paid off.

NMSU student Megan Kirchhofer poses with a copy of her recently released book of poetry, “If Butterflies Could Talk.” (Photo by Adeline Triplett/Kokopelli)

While Kirchhofer has been writing for over a decade, she got her big break in the form of a writing challenge. In the challenge, she submitted an original poem every day for 21 days. These poems were then selected to be published.

“If Butterflies Could Talk” is a collection of poems which discuss themes of love, loss, anxiety and happiness as Kirchhofer has experienced them. She calls it a compilation of places she’s been, and which represent who she is as a person.

“I have always known that I wanted to write a poetry book,” Kirchhofer said. “I just didn’t know how it was gonna happen, so I just kept writing and writing and writing and hoping that something would stick sometime.”

She says that this love of writing and commitment to her dream stems in part from the influence of different teachers she’s had throughout her life, beginning as early as fifth grade. Now, at NMSU, the young poet continues to draw inspiration from her professors.

Richard Greenfield is an NMSU English professor and fellow poet. He has had Kicrhhofer in two of his classes now, during which he provided feedback and helped her workshop some of the poetry included in “If Butterflies Could Talk.”

Greenfield says that although it’s impressive that she has a published book, it’s her passion and excitement to learn new aspects of the art that sets Kirchhofer and her poetry apart.

“At the core of the book, butterflies and tattoos become more than recurring motifs as she blurs distinctions between temporary change and permanence, for here also are frank glimpses into open wounds and past traumas,” Greenfield said. “As a fellow poet, I know the act of writing these poems offered autonomy, healing and reckoning for Megan. That these poems so unapologetically celebrate love and self-acceptance speaks to her endurance as a human and a poet.”

Kirchhofer says that this rawness which is so prevalent in her writing is exactly why she became a poet. For her, poetry is an outlet to express her feelings, opinions and creativity in a way that exemplifies how she truly feels.

The “If Butterflies Could Talk” author considers poetry to be a “defiant” art, especially with regard to personal fears. While this defiance is felt throughout her book, Kirchhofer says that choosing to overcome her fears and challenges to be real wasn’t easy.

“I would say that the hardest part is just existing as a person and having things to write about,” Kirchhofer explained. “My life has been so full, and I have so many stories — good and bad and strange and weird. This book is a really weird conglomeration of all of those feelings that were real things that I actually did feel.”

And although it may not have been easy for Kirchhofer to bare her experiences and feelings to the world through her book, even readers who aren’t as knowledgeable about poetry as Richard Greenfield still recognize and appreciate it.

Casey Combs is a close friend of Kirchhofer’s and a fellow NMSU student. Combs bought her book shortly after it was released to support his friend and was “mind blown” at how much he related to many of the poems.

A page from NMSU student Megan Kirchhofer’s book of poetry, “If Butterflies Could Talk,” reveals the young poet’s struggles and triumphs, too. Kirchhofer’s book explores themes of love, loss, anxiety and happiness. (Photo courtesy of Megan Kirchhofer)

“There’s a lot of poems in her book that convey the message that she’s not strong because she made herself strong, and that really resonates with me because regardless of the situation she’s in, she’s still fighting to make sure she’s strong enough to continue walking and fighting,” Combs said. “And that’s something I can relate to, and I’m sure that’s something that a lot of people can relate to. I think she has a really magical way of capturing that in a way that a lot of other poetry books that I’ve tried to read tried to do, but don’t quite get it the way she does.”

Combs encourages others he knows to buy “If Butterflies Could Talk” as well, joking that it costs less than he spends at Starbucks with a greater value.

Receiving such encouragement from her friends, family and teachers surprised Kirchhofer, especially since she had been nervous to see reactions to her book not only in general, but from certain people, as well.

However, Kirchhofer now calls the profound support after the release of her book “validating,” and appreciates how many people — some of whom she hasn’t spoken to in years — reached out to her.

“Having that support is really meaningful to me because poetry is a really vulnerable art,” Kirchhofer said. “Every art is vulnerable, but it’s about me. It took a lot of work for me to be emotionally ready to put it out into the world, and there’s a lot of pieces in there that I wrote for a specific reason and I included them because they needed to be there.

The young poet has plans to write another poetry book in the future. She considers this first book an introduction to herself and her life and says that future books will be “fuller” and “more artistic.” In the meantime, Kirchhofer still writes as much as she can and is enjoying the success of her first published book.

“If Butterflies Could Talk” is available for order on Amazon.com.

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