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 2010 winners were featured in Poiesis #3. Two Honorable Mention winners are also awarded publication and a certificate.

• Stephanie Hiteshew | “Contagious” •

They all
call me ugly.
I tell them,
“If that’s true,
I hope it’s contagious.”
And they scatter
like the days
I wasn’t this smart.

• Gary Every | “Yardwork” •

My longest account
has been with Mrs. Wigston.
When her yard is overrun
with grasses, weeds, and wildflowers,
she asks me to landscape
her parcel of earth.
Armed with only a hoe,
I wield the wrath of my blade
until the soil is barren.
Her payment is always prompt
but paperclipped with a note complaining
that I have left behind too many wildflowers.

“After the bloom has died,
a wildflower is just another ugly weed.”

• Pamela Annas | “Just Another Word” •

For Janis Joplin, 1943-1970

1969. I’m tossing back bourbon
and dancing alone in my living room
to your smoky chain-link barbed-wire voice
biting off chunks of pain.

White girl from Texas growling out the blues,
channeling Big Mama Thornton and Bessie,
the way they rode the blues migration north
to Chicago and New York off the front porches
out of honky tonks and Vaudeville tents
into Saturday night bright lights
and everyone’s house
        the miracle
                of the wind-up
They rewrote what women could do—
and the price.

Forty years later, thumbing your nose
at Port Arthur, Texas, you sped out of town
on a sixties road trip to North Beach and the Haight,
mixed blues, rock, and the beats to sing your throat raw:
        We may not be here tomorrow, no,
                I’d say get it while you can.

Voice big as the Texas sky, explosive as an oil well on fire,
voice of shivers, sugar, and Southern Comfort,
brown velvet and white horse, needles and nettles,
pounding summer sun and never
quite fitting in.

Take another little piece of my heart now, baby.
Break it.