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July 28, 2014

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Pahrump: ‘It’s not exactly a wasteland’

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A look at the cover of Pahrump’s literary journal “Dream.”

When people think of Pahrump, they don’t usually think of high-minded literary types.

The rural, unincorporated town 50 miles west of Las Vegas has legal brothels, a strong gun culture, no major industries and a smattering of casinos.

But as John Salacan can attest, Pahrump also has poets, essayists and avid readers.

“It’s not exactly a wasteland,” he said.

Salacan, a 72-year-old book restorer and substitute teacher, recently published “Dream: Journal of Poetry and the Arts.” Through his White Raven Press, he edits and designs the journal from his home in Pahrump.

His wife, Asya Ivanova, a lifelong poet from Ukraine, is managing editor, and they both contribute work to the journal.

The first 48-page issue came out in summer and sold for $5 at local shops and restaurants. Salacan, a New Jersey native, printed it at home and stapled the books by hand. It included poems, essays, short stories and drawings from students and adults.

The first 50 copies sold out quickly, so he printed another 35. Those sold, too.

The next issue is expected to come out this month. Salacan will start with 100 copies, which will be sold around Pahrump and at Dead Poet Books in Las Vegas.

“Hopefully we have to print more,” he said. “We’ll see.”

Here's what Salacan had to say about the publication and Pahrump:

Why publish a journal?

I’m just a literary person. My wife and I, we’re both into poetry. I’ve always had it in my mind to do a poetry magazine of some sort.

I write a lot. I like encouraging people to write. My wife wants to give a stage to creative people. The whole idea of being involved in poetry and poetry readings is all about sharing, people wanting to share something of themselves.

Why does anyone create anything? Why does a painter paint something? They like what they’re seeing and they want to share. It’s this urge to have something to say to people, to involve them in your life in a certain way, in a way you think or see things.

What will the next issue look like?

It will have poems, a story, an essay, a column, and some drawings and photos. It will have a color, glossy cover and run 52 pages.

We’re using a commercial printer this time, and I’ve gotten a few people to advertise to help defray the costs.

It was an awful lot of work. We’ll be lucky if it pays for itself.

When did you and your wife move to Pahrump?

In the beginning of 2006. I was involved in the New York poetry scene in the '90s when we met. We used to go to poetry readings together.

We lived in New Jersey, but things got different after 9/11. I worked as a museum and book restorer — I had my own restoration business — but it dried up.

We were looking to move. We came out to visit friends in Las Vegas, and next thing you know, we’re living here. When we moved in, there were about 600 people a month moving here. It stopped when the real estate crash came.

What is Pahrump’s literary scene like?

On the second Saturday of the month, we have poetry readings at a coffee house. We also have readings at the library. A lot of people are interested in this stuff.

There is also a Shakespeare group. Sometimes we read for old-folks homes or RV parks, but we’ve been reading around town.

People here have the money to retire. Many of them are very educated, very interesting people. I met a woman here who speaks six languages. You never know what you’re going to find here.

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