Alternating Current is dedicated to nurturing and promoting the independent press and its authors. We proudly honor our authors with three annual writing awards, The Luminaire Award for Best Prose, The Luminaire Award for Best Poetry, and The Charter Oak Award for Best Historical.

Legend has it that this unusually large white oak tree on what early colonists named Wyllys Hyll in Hartford, Connecticut, was where the Royal Charter of 1662 was shoved into a hidden hollow to thwart its confiscation by the English governor-general who wished to revoke the piece of legislation that granted autonomy to the colonists. This tree, named the Charter Oak, has since become a symbol of the power of documents and recorded history, the freedom they give us, showcasing the lengths one would go to protect, defend, and stand by words that could forever change the course of people’s lives. While the Charter Oak is a strong, undeniable piece of American history, its symbol is universal. Words empower us all, the whole world over, and we’ll die to protect our right to them. Here, at Alternating Current, we want to preserve and reward those words that empower us, so that they, too, may go down in history.

The Charter Oak Award for Best Historical is awarded annually on November 15th to a single piece of work that is historical in nature and has been submitted to and published by Alternating Current. There is no separate application process. All historical works submitted to Alternating Current are considered for the award and for publication, and we welcome readers to let us know where we can find outstanding work of merit so that we may invite those authors to submit their work to us, as well.

The winning piece will receive print publication in our annual historical journal, Footnote; publication as the winner with the author’s name and the piece printed on our website; two complimentary copies of the Footnote print journal with the winning piece indicated with our medallion imprint; a certificate; a laser-engraved desk award; a $100 cash honorarium; and our virtual medallion with permission for use on the author’s websites and/or any published book or online outlet where the piece is contained.

Two Honorable Mention winners in each category will receive print publication in our annual journal, Footnote; publication as the Honorable Mention winners with the authors’ names and the pieces printed on our website; one complimentary copy of the Footnote print journal with the winning pieces indicated in the acknowledgments; and certificates.

Alternating Current is pleased to present a select panel of editors, publishers, writing instructors, literary organization members, and/or published authors who are invited by our press to participate in the blind judging process to select the winning pieces each year. The winners are announced with the annual release of each issue of Footnote on November 15th and are notified via email on that day. The judging process consists of all Alternating Current editors deciding on the top pieces for the finalist round. Those pieces are then sent blindly to the external judging panel, and the top three pieces in each category are determined by those judges via a ranking system. The judges’ decisions are final. For fairness, Alternating Current editors or affiliated members are not eligible to compete for the award, and Alternating Current editors do not determine the final outcome.

Special thanks and acknowledgment to Devin Byrnes and SuA of Hardly Square, for their creativity in designing our annual medallion imprint. Hardly Square is a strategy-, branding-, and design-based boutique located in Baltimore, Maryland, that specializes in graphic design, web design, and eLearning courses. Their invaluable design expertise has made our annual awards come to life. Learn more about our designers.




Painting: The Charter Oak, oil on canvas, Charles De Wolf Brownell, 1857. Artwork in public domain.