• 2014 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry •

Winners & Finalists 2014

Winners & Finalists for 2014 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry

First Place: “Low Tide” by Pete M. Wyer
Second Place: “Miss Valley City, North Dakota” by Charles P. Ries
Third Place: “William Barret Question Mark” by CEE
Fourth Place: “Birch Street” by Charles P. Ries
Fifth Place: “With Apologies to Rose Bonne [The Hall of Ives]” by CEE

2014 First Place Winner: “Low Tide” by Pete M. Wyer

Low Tide

We were used to the rhythm of tides.
We’d sat by calm water,
Been ruffled by restless winds.
We didn’t suspect
The rotted wrecks
Caught among the jagging rocks
That steered the course of the river,
Starkly revealed by this day.

He closes his eyes.
We, his friends,
Sit in silence.




Pete M. Wyer is a composer and musician from England with an interest in storytelling and innovation. He has created seven operas and music theater works, as well as scores for the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Juilliard, and Royal Opera House. His poetry and text works for voice include songs and settings of Charles Bukowski, Mark Strand, Lorca, Dante, Shakespeare, Charles Simic, Giuseppe Ungaretti, and longtime collaborator, post-beat poet Steve Dalachinsky. Find out more at pmwmusic.com.

2014 Second Place Winner: “Miss Valley City, North Dakota” by Charles P. Ries

Miss Valley City, North Dakota

It was an odd place to be a beauty queen,
butt square in the middle of America.
Where drinking, eating red meat,
and killing time outside Woolworth’s
was considered gainful employment.

A Great Plains beauty with a lost look
from a past life that told you she
wasn’t comfortable wearing this town’s
tiara. Wondering why any thinking God
would re-enter her here. In this place,
to eat buffalo burgers and to be confused
with someone else. Making amends for
past life sins.

Maybe this is why she tried to drink her
brains out. Pounding away her sense of
strangeness to make her soul fit here, but
drunk or not, they loved her and voted
her their Queen of Valley Days in 1972.

They wrapped their beauty queen’s
head in a garland of Prairie Chicken
grass, gave her a scepter of wheat
husks, circled her ivory porcelain
neck with a string of Swedish meatballs,
and carried her down Main Street in a
white Chevy convertible chariot.

Years later, after she dried out, moved
away, began to live in real time and
remember her days, she made friends
with life and walked the middle road
between drunks and born-again Christians.
She discovered she could zap pain
away with a flick of her forefinger.
She liked doing this better than
drinking and began to live dangerously.

In time, she yearned to return to
that white convertible and smell
it all over again. To see it with
young, sober eyes at middle age.
The people outside Woolworth’s
were glad to see her. Pleased to
have her flick her finger their way.
She would always be Miss Valley
City. And she came to know that
family is family, and the glue that
binds us together is greater than
the things that make us change.




Charles P. Ries’ narrative poems, short stories, interviews, and poetry reviews have appeared in over two hundred print and electronic publications. He has received four Pushcart Prize nominations for his writing and is the author of six books of poetry. He was awarded the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association Jade Ring Award for humorous poetry and is the former poetry editor of Word Riot and ESC!. Ries is also the author of The Fathers We Find, a somewhat-fictionalized memoir of his growing up on a mink farm in Southeastern Wisconsin. His work is archived in the Charles P. Ries Collection at Marquette University. A citizen philosopher, he lived in London and North Africa after college, where he studied the mystical teachings of Islam known as Sufism. In 1989, he worked with the Dalai Lama on a program that brought American religious- and psycho-therapists together for a weeklong dialogue. He has done extensive work with men’s groups and worked with a Jungian psychotherapist for over five years, during which time he learned to find meanings in small things. He is also a founding member of the Lake Shore Surf Club, the oldest freshwater surfing club on the Great Lakes.

2014 Third Place Winner: “William Barret Question Mark” by CEE

William Barret Question Mark

Am I a pseudo-British, condescending asshole
Who could kick champion ass in World Fencing?
Do I strut and sneer and bite out my bitterness
“How USELESS!!, Sen—nor Seg—guin … !”
Do I, indeed, think my shit don’t stink?
Am I a pale, should-have-played-for-Marilyn-Manson, pseudo-Goth
Who’s swallowed up by ’ee’s mini-Mad Hatter hat?
Do I mumble and murmur and give the impression
That I not only don’t think my shit don’t stink,
I don’t even think I could get it up?

I think I’m neither
I think I’m a man you never knew, nor ever, ever will
Who never saw the bullet coming
Even though I’d seen it clear, there, in the air
Hovering, for thirteen days




CEE is a failed short story writer, failed novelist, and failed playwright. In the early 2000s, he developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, forcing him, by 2007, to fall back to the shorthand of poetry. Over 600 of his poems have since seen or will see some form of media. He has been printed in such diverse publications as bear creek haiku, Jerry Jazz Musician, Children, Churches and Daddies, Tales of the Talisman, The Storyteller, Barbaric Yawp, The Iconoclast, Poiesis Review, and Dreams and Nightmares. His poem, “It’s An Old Story,” received a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2009. He is the author of 17 chapbooks, including 12 times 12 equals Gross, Und ihr Habt Doch Gesiegt (You Have Finally Won), I Am Not Sydney Carton, tomB Baby (with Hot Robert Toddy), and Gunther, and he has been included in the international mailers of Marymark Press.

Luminaire Award Medallion Designers

Special thanks and acknowledgment to Devin Byrnes and SuA Kang 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 medallion designers.

Transparency for 2014 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry

Judging spreadsheets and final reports will be updated here shortly.