Published poet and completive Scrabble champ Travis Chaney is a man of many words. But more important to Chaney is the weight those words carry with them.




"When most people get to know me, the first thing is that I'm a competitive Scrabble player. But I wish more people would recognize me as a poet," said Chaney. "Think of me as a creative artist rather than just another person trying his hand at poetry."




For Chaney, simply throwing around syntax is abominable. Rather, to the aspiring poet, words are instruments of creation, rather than a means to gild the lily. "I think people would understand my work better if they knew me. On one hand, I'd like my work to be able to stand up on its own and move complete strangers, but as people know me, they can become more immersed in my compositions."




"In everyday speech I have worked to erase solecisms but in my poetic compositions I like the freedom of wordplay," said Chaney. "Much like my most powerful influence, e.e. Cummings, I like to change the nature of words, which is becoming more popular in our culture."




Chaney quotes his idol Cummings, " 'Whoever pays attention to the syntax of things will never wholly kiss you.' When I do my work, I try to break free," said Chaney.




A building block in his road to poetic mastery is a love of the game Scrabble that has Chaney traveling the country to professional Scrabble tournaments. "I don't know where it came from. It began in my adult years. the better I got, the more immersed I became. I realized how immense our lexicon is. As I grow deeper into poetry, I grew into the serendipitous discoveries of rare words. I can say that Scrabble influenced my poetic compositions, (which) use anagrams a lot. I am fascinated with the juxtapositions of infinite compositions."




Another primary source of inspiration of Chaney's is his love of jazz.




"It influenced me in a few different ways. A lot of my poems take classic 'bop' form. I start with a statement and improve the middle and then return to it. Another way which recapitulates what happens in jazz is the transpositions of things, like Coltrane did with the melody. Lots of flipping and rearranging," explains Chaney. "But most importantly, my work is jazzy rhythmically. Not an accountable rhythm, but a sensible rhythm &

that is to say, what can be sensed. The pulse, the dynamics."




But ultimately, Chaney's main source of inspiration is his life, and pursuit of spirituality. "I write a lot of celestial metaphors, and also have a great deal of eroticism find its way into my works. I think it is very significant that I was raised a Jehovah's Witness," said Chaney. "My own personal enlightenment led me to grow beyond dogma and indoctrination, which has a profound influence on my poetic compositions. I lived a very lonely existence in Arkansas, which was difficult to deal with socially but led to creating works within myself."




"I feel that poetry is a very important art form that a lot of people have tried but few people truly appropriate," said Chaney. "I moved to Oregon because the universe opened up the pathway here, for the art and for me to be with the love of my life." Chaney refers to new wife, Mandy, and son Julius, a last great piece of the inspiration that is Travis Chaney.