One of the best parts of editing the Local is the knowledge that Local readers are a literate lot.

I  don’t have a shred of scientific evidence to support that claim, but I have a library’s worth of  anecdotes to back it up. More so than most little weeklies, we can assume that our readers will get a better level of writing and also tend to appreciate things like literature, independent film and good music.

It’s because of that fact that one of our most popular columnists in print is Hugh Gilmore, whose Enemies of Reading column is now in its fifth year of publication. What began as a year-long tale of trying to read 100 books in a year has become a regular check-in with a keen, literary observer. The Local might be one of the only little weekly papers with a columnist like Gilmore, who doesn’t have to dumb things down for the middle-of-the-road and can still write about literature and find an audience.

It is also because of our audience that we can run a relatively successful fiction and poetry section, now in its fourth year. Again, we asked our readers to submit poetry and prose and received a healthy response, particularly for poetry. And, yes, people are still writing poetry.

Choosing what to publish was, again, difficult. We only have so much space and there are inevitably those poems that were worth sharing but for which there is just not enough room. In this issue you will find two stories and five poems from readers. Again, as last year, East Falls resident Horace Deacon wowed us with his whip-fast and humorous narrative in “The loneliness of the power-walking moralist.” Also worthy, we felt, was Gene Caffrey’s coming of age story, “The view from McDonald’s.”

Also, this year we introduced a sub-category for high-school students and have, here, printed a story and three poems by aspiring writers. It seems we have school-aged kids in our area who are every bit as well read as their parents. This is a new part of the annual Fiction and Poetry edition that I’d like to see grow in the future.

One handy intersection has been that of the Fiction and Poetry Edition with Chestnut Hill’s Book Festival. The festival, now in its third year, is building on the same foundation as the literary supplement of the Local: Hillers and Local readers like their books and enjoy meeting and hearing authors talk about books and writing.  Likely, those of you who are interested in this edition will also be very interested in the two-days of literary events on the Avenue this weekend.

The Local is again participating in this year’s festival by hosting a reading and discussion with the authors published in this edition. That event will take place from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 10 at Rollers Flying Fish, 8142 Germantown Ave.

Finally, the last thing I’d like to do is appeal to our literary readers to give us advice on how to improve the section next year. Last year, several people who attended our event said they’d like to see more regular fiction and poetry offerings in the Local. Some said they’d like to see a regular online literary edition. These are both sound ideas that we’re looking into and discussing. Any other advice would be appreciated and considered.

If you have any ideas, drop me a note via email at pete@chestnuthilllocal.com.  I’ll do my best to respond to suggestions.

In the meantime, enjoy the reading break.

Pete Mazzaccaro