The Luminaire Award  is awarded annually to one work of poetry and one work of prose that has been submitted to and published by Alternating Current. Every piece of writing submitted to our press is considered for the award. Prior to the 2013 award, only poetry was considered, the judging panel consisted of only Alternating Current editors, and no honorariums were given.

All winning pieces are published in our annual literary journal, Poiesis, and online at our website. The winners also receive complimentary copies of the journal with their winning pieces indicated with our medallion imprint, the use of the medallion imprint on their own websites and book collections, a $100 honorarium, a certificate, and a laser-engraved standing desk award. All winning pieces are now chosen by a select panel of editors, publishers, writing instructors, literary organization members, and/or published authors invited by our press to participate. The 2008 winners were featured in Poiesis #1. Two Honorable Mention winners are also awarded publication and a certificate.

• Don Winter | “Cleaning Up at the Hamtramck Burger Chef” •

Nights at this place
boss lines spray bottles up
across the counter. He says the red’s
for shelves, the blue’s for toilets,
and the white’s only for stainless steel.
His eyebrows frown, but when
that bastard disappears into his office,
I spray what I want
onto what I want.

Some nights his wife lifts
her ass onto the counter. She points
out turnover skins I missed.
Looks like she’s been slept in
for years. Those nights I time
his trip to the bank so I can chase
her with the white bottle.
And I catch her and squeeze
the little Chef faces stitched
over her breasts.

But most nights the boss
looks right through me. His wife cleans
the salad bar, and yells
at the bits of mustard and dressing.
As if they were to blame
for all this. One night boss yelled,
What are you sittin around for?
Go home and get yourself
a piece of ass. I turned to him.
I am a piece of ass.
He laughed at that,
so I said it louder.

• Kevin M. Hibshman | “jumper” •

sorrow in the face
of the wafer-thin girl.
child-bone borne through the
heart and arteries of bedlam to
be suspended in deathless flight.
she got the world figured out,
all right.

• Zoe A. Jaimot | “in the poetry section of brown university bookstore, providence, ri” •

When you ask me where are the poets of today—

I can answer you emphatically
that I have seen them skulking
among empty spaces full of pages—

When you ask me where are these modern versifiers—

I can tell you that I have seen them
continually among a fog of books—

And I have seen these geniuses of writing classes
haphazardly thumb through volumes
while they sit among smashed verbs—
that go nowhere on shelves
inscribed and perfect bound
with words that would be
wishing wells for these thick talkers—
for these borrowers of sentiment—

for these poets that carefully
coif and spike their outer anonymity
with streaks of purple angst—
looking like rock stars drugged
by just the proper dactyls
of urban trendiness while
these same self-proclaimed new age poets
circle endlessly in apparent boredom—
like vultures eyeing these aisles to swoop
on those unsuspecting few—

who stop unaware
of this purposely planned introduction
to the “rap” and “spin” of modern verse—

Today’s poets spring silently at their prey—
on boots better made for stomping than alliteration—
and casually pluck their own books from the racks—
and smile with a look of practiced sincerity—
while turning to say, “This person’s pretty good”—
and then ask, “Have you read anything by them?”—
“You really should, you know,” they say
with just a tinge of hipster/peer pressure in their tone—
“Everyone says it’s better than an orgasm,” they add
hoping to lure you with visions of quick sex—
always remembering to look deeply
as they speak the false phrases—
hoping by the guile of personality
to achieve an apotheosis—
they could never reach by words
better left honestly alone.