The Luminaire Award for Best Prose

The Luminaire Award for Best Prose

About Alternating Current’s Luminaire Award for Best Prose

The Luminaire Award for Best Prose is Alternating Current Press’ annual writing award to recognize the best short stories, flash fiction, and hybrid prose work submitted to the press. All fiction submitted to Alternating Current is considered for the award, and there is no additional submission process. The winner is announced each spring from our prose finalists, selected by our fiction editors, to receive publication, publicity, a monetary award, and other incentives from our press.

Award Process and Guidelines

Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Contest Code of Ethics

We Subscribe to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) Contest Code of Ethics: CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1.) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2.) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines—defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3.) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.

Alternating Current’s Selection & Judging Process

1.) We take submissions through Submittable and use its tools and our own to accept semi-incognito submissions. We say semi-incognito because the administrator has access to the information (although that position does not read or accept submissions); snail mail submissions cannot be read incognito (but are also included in our process, so there is a submitting option available for everyone); and the acquisitions editor occasionally has access to contact information provided by solicited manuscripts. The acquisitions editor only selects work for publication, not for award processes. While administrators determine what is published on our press, they do not make judging decisions for awards.

2.) We ask submitters not to include their names, contact information, or any identifying marks within the documents, titles, and file names of submissions.

3.) Staff members of Alternating Current may have pieces published on The Coil or submit pieces for incognito submission consideration, but they are not eligible to win award prizes. (Please note that some of our staffers became staff members after they won awards because they enjoyed working with our press during the process.)

4.) For all awards, the administrator compiles a spreadsheet of all the eligible pieces, makes sure everything is stripped of any contact information, and sends that spreadsheet to the fiction readers and editors at Alternating Current Press. The editors rank their selections from 1-12 to choose the top 12 finalists, including a first, second, and third place. The rankings are then tallied, and the incognito judging decisions are final.

5.) While the pieces are read incognito, the readers are asked to recuse themselves from judging if there are any pieces that they may recognize as posing a personal conflict of interest. Once selected, we will reveal the winner’s name privately to the readers before announcement to clarify that there is no conflict of interest. Should there be, the next finalist in line without conflict shall become the winner. Conflicts of interest are defined as: close friends, relatives, students, and former students of the judges. We do not consider workshops to be disqualifying factors, unless the judge personally feels there is a conflict there. We leave the discretion of conflict identification up to the judges.

6.) All winners and finalists are notified prior to announcement. The results are publicly posted online at The Coil and on the press website.

Current 2021 Prize

The First Place winner receives $100 (upon publication); publication of his poem at Alternating Current Press both online (on the website award page and on The Coil) and in our triennial print anthology in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats; a complimentary print copy of the anthology; complimentary digital copies of the anthology in all formats; our virtual gold award medallion for use on book covers, social media profiles, and websites; a certificate; and a press release mailing-list blast. Second Place and Third Place receive our silver virtual medallion for use on book covers, social media profiles, and websites; certificates; their poems published online at our award website page; and $20 each (upon publication). The Top Five Places all receive publication in our triennial print anthology in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats and complimentary digital copies of the anthology. All Top Twelve Places are published online on The Coil, with their finalist positions indicated. All Semifinalists are published online on The Coil, without award indication. The Coil pays a small token payment for online publication of all pieces.

What is a Luminaire?

A luminaire is a complete electric light unit (used especially in technical contexts). The word comes from early 20th-century French, and some antique versions even had candles in them before electricity was widespread.

Lu•min•aire: \ˌlü-mə-ˈner\ n. Complete lighting unit, consisting of one or more lamps (bulbs or tubes that emit light), along with the socket and other parts that hold the lamp in place and protect it, wiring that connects the lamp to a power source, and a reflector that helps direct and distribute the light[1].

We chose the name specifically because it deals not only with electricity and lighting up a room, a home, a place, a world, a mind—but also because it refers to a complete lit unit, which is what we’re seeking: pieces that are complete in themselves from start to finish, pieces that have it all and light up our minds, the whole all-in-one package that outshines the rest.

[1] Concise Encyclopedia.

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.

Winners & Finalists for 2020 Luminaire Award for Best Prose

First Place: “Parlor Tricks” by Brook McClurg
Second Place: “Amazing Grace” by Gregory Neil Harris
Third Place: “Lost Cat” by Josh McCraney
Fourth Place: “The Sublime Is Difficult to Replifake” by Soramimi Hanarejima
Fifth Place: “The Common Cold” by Brook McClurg
Sixth Place: “Halloween” by Mark Putzi
Seventh Place: “Dream Sequence in Winter up North in Full; or, The Western Cwm” by Gracjan Kraszewski
Eighth Place: “The Ordeal” by Patrick Macknick

Winners & Finalists for 2019 Luminaire Award for Best Prose

First Place: “The NIEMS Method” by James McAdams
Second Place: “Thematic Cartography” by Chloe Clark
Third Place: “Isabella, Collated” by Sophia Denney
Fourth Place: “Phagocyte” by James McAdams
Fifth Place: “Imperfect Numbers” by Kristina Gaddy

Winners & Finalists for 2018 Luminaire Award for Best Prose

First Place: “Rabbit Pie” by Hayden Smith
Second Place: “At the Seams” by Chloe Seim
Third Place: “How the Lonesome Engine Drivers Pine” by Sean Madden
Fourth Place: “Knitting” by Carla Scarano D’Antonio
Fifth Place: “Why Jamaicans Do Not Exist in Fairytales” by Morgan Christie
Sixth Place: “Spring Cleaning” by Chloe Seim

Winners & Finalists for 2017 Luminaire Award for Best Prose

First Place: “Ephemeral Girls” by L. L. Madrid
Second Place: “Sharon’s Lover Is Dissipating” by James R. Gapinski
Third Place: “Entanglement” by Joel Wachman
Fourth Place: “The Necessary Emptying” by Christine Ann Olivas
Fifth Place: “We went to Polonnaruwa to find history” by Subashini Navaratnam
Sixth Place: “What Little Boys Are Made Of” by Joel Wachman
Seventh Place: “Monsters in the Agapanthus” by Jessica Barksdale

Winners & Finalists for 2016 Luminaire Award for Best Prose

First Place: “For the Man after Me” by Eric Shonkwiler
Second Place: “Kinda Sorta American Dream” by Steve Karas
Third Place: “What World We Build after All That’s Burned Away” by Justin Lawrence Daugherty
Fourth Place: “Sculpting Sand” by Steve Karas
Fifth Place: “Tennessee” by Constance Sayers
Sixth Place: “The Jewel Fish” by Charles Bane, Jr.
Seventh Place: “LinkedIn Thought You Might Be Interested in This Post-Climate Impact Job: Environmental Migrant Management and Soil-Free Solutions” by Ashley Shelby
Eighth Place: “Re-Up” by Eric Shonkwiler
Ninth Place: “Summer of the Horseshoe Crab” by Charles Bane, Jr.
Tenth Place: “Walking” by Diane Payne
Eleventh Place: “Riders on the Storm” by Vic Sizemore
Twelfth Place: “Furthermore” by Josh Wardrip

Winners & Finalists for 2015 Luminaire Award for Best Prose

First Place: “Chindi” by Eric Shonkwiler
Second Place: “A Hindershot of Calion” by Schuler Benson
Third Place: “Inheritance” by Stephanie Liden
Fourth Place: “An American Seeker” by Kevin Catalano
Fifth Place: “The Poor Man’s Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide” by Schuler Benson
Sixth Place: “The Photographer” by Andrei Guruianu
Seventh Place: “Any Similarities between the Characters in this Purely Fictional Story and Actual Individuals Are Purely Coincidental” by Phill Arensberg
Eighth Place: “Ole Hazel” by Schuler Benson
Ninth Place: “It Won’t Always Be Like This” by Seth Clabough
Tenth Place: “Tatau” by Jennifer Leeper
Eleventh Place: “Mama Was a Breeder, and I Was Born a Son of a Bitch” by Schuler Benson
Twelfth Place: “Frequencies Between” by Eric Shonkwiler

Winners & Finalists for 2014 Luminaire Award for Best Prose

First Place: “A Slow Dance in the Afternoon” by Mia Eaker
Second Place: “Sunrise Special” by John Vicary
Third Place: “The Spirit of Shackleton” by Gavin Broom
Fourth Place: “The Elephant in the Bathtub” by J. Lewis Fleming
Fifth Place: “Stoop” by Alexa Mergen
Sixth Place: “The Peculiar Incident at Otter Creek” by Gavin Broom
Seventh Place: “The Deathbed Confessions of Christopher Walken” by Paul Corman-Roberts
Eighth Place: “Telling the Sampo” by Kevin Catalano
Ninth Place: “The Blue Diamond” by Steph Post
Tenth Place: “If Only Her Husband Were a Member of the Brotherhood of Flying Things” by Elizabeth P. Glixman
Eleventh Place: “This Love Story Has a Zombie in It” by Daniel Crocker
Twelfth Place: “On Coyotes and Hay Bales” by Ronnie K. Stephens

Winners & Finalists for 2013 Luminaire Award for Best Prose

First Place: “Vandals” by Nathan Graziano
Second Place: “Near to Him” by Charles P. Ries
Third Place: “Our Place” by Neil Serven
Fourth Place: “An Inheritance” by Janette Schafer
Fifth Place: “Die Vögel” by Patrick Kindig
Sixth Place: “To Kill Them to Break Them” by Robert James Russell
Seventh Place: “Pea Soup” by Christina Elaine Collins
Eighth Place: “Dear River” by Misti Rainwater-Lites
Ninth Place: “Mutha’s Boy” by Travis Turner