There’s nothing superficial about Lorenz Mazon Dumuk. He’s a poet. His love of poetry led him to California State University, East Bay’s Creative Writing Program and to the epicenter of San Jose’s vibrant spoken word scene. A member of Poetry Center San Jose and the San Jose Poetry Slam, Dumuk stays up late writing the poetry that he recites at performances and slams at competitions. Poems come to him unbidden: they pour out of his pen onto the page. He writes about the complicated love that he feels for his family and for his Filipino culture. He writes about the pain that he feels recovering from his traumatic past and reclaiming himself from a one-size-should-fit-all society. He writes fearlessly about the transformative power that he finds facing his inner demons.

“I write about trauma and the curiosity and childlike wonder that’s survived. Frida Kahlo, Picasso, Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes, Rumi—there are all these wonderful artists and poets who felt loneliness and solitude. Their art says suffering has a name; pain has a picture. This is a conversation that we can continue because art in its purest sense is a wonderful conversation, and when we become participants, we continue their conversations. It’s an extended conversation. It’s community. I rely heavily on my community because I had to learn how to reach out for support to find my voice. What does writing look like when you don’t have to suffer through that isolation as much? It requires me to offer not only my success but also my struggles. But I’m only as good as my community: when you have community, you can love yourself.”

instagram: lorenzdumuk

This article originally appeared in Issue 9.5 “Profiles”