Luminaire Poetry Award
About the Luminaire Poetry Award
The Luminaire Award for Best Poetry is Alternating Current Press’ annual writing award to recognize the best poetry and hybrid work submitted to the press. We’re seeking individual poems in any poetry format, including experimental, prose poems, and hybrid. We especially want to hear from marginalized and underrepresented authors, and we are an LGBTQUIA+ safe-space.
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. [Concise Encyclopedia]
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.
Submissions open: NOV 1, 2023
Submissions close: FEB 28, 2024
Winner announced: APR 2024
The first-place winner receives $100 (upon publication); publication of the winning piece on The Coil and in our triennial anthology that is printed in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats; a listing on the Alternating Current Press award page and on a press release on The Coil; complimentary digital copies of the triennial anthology in all digital formats; our virtual gold award medallion for use on book covers, social media profiles, and websites; a certificate; and a press release mailing-list email blast. The triennial anthology is distributed through Ingram and all major online retailers, and publication includes a press kit, a book club reading guide, a press release, multiple mailing-list email blasts, social media, and more.
Second place and third place receive $25 each (upon publication); publication of their pieces on The Coil and in our triennial anthology that is printed in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats; a listing on the Alternating Current Press award page and on a press release on The Coil; complimentary digital copies of the triennial anthology in all digital formats; our silver virtual medallion for use on book covers, social media profiles, and websites; certificates; and a press release mailing-list email blast.
Fourth and fifth place winners receive a listing on the Alternating Current Press award page; publication of their poems on The Coil and in our triennial anthology that is printed in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats; complimentary digital copies of the triennial anthology in all digital formats; and a press release mailing-list email blast.
Seven finalists are published online on The Coil, one per month, with finalist status indicated.
All semifinalists and accepted pieces are published online on The Coil, without award indication. The Coil pays a small token payment for online publication of all pieces.
If we enjoy your entire submission, we may additionally ask to see more work or a full collection from authors whose work we admire.
- This category is only for INDIVIDUAL standalone poems (not book-length manuscripts). Submissions can be any type of poetry, small groups of linked poems, experimental, prose poems, or hybrid. (Hybrid that most closely resembles fiction or prose should be submitted to the Luminaire Prose Award.)
- All genres, styles, and subjects considered. A soft upper limit of 5,000 words is suggested.
- Our journal is hosted on the Medium platform, which is not the best place for poetry that is anything other than left-aligned. We are not the best home for single poems with fancy layouts.
- You may submit up to 5 poems in a single document file.
- Submissions are read incognito. DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME OR ANY IDENTIFYING MARKS INSIDE THE FILE, including headers, footers, cover pages, acknowledgments, and file names. If you do leave your identifying marks inside the file, the submission will be read as-is, but the reader may disqualify the submission if he knows you on any personal level.
- All work must be in English and must be the author’s own. Single work by multiple authors considered. We do not consider AI-generated works.
- If you need to adjust a submission, please use the Request to Edit option through Submittable. Please don’t request to edit for minor flaws, however—all accepted work will go through an editing process and will have the chance to be updated before publication, and your work will not be disqualified for a missing comma.
- All authors must be at least 18 to submit.
- Simultaneous submissions allowed. You do not have to withdraw a piece that is accepted elsewhere, as long as you still own the reprint rights after first publication.
- Previously published pieces are considered, as long as you still own the reprint rights. Don’t include acknowledgments in the file.
- ACP and The Coil staff may submit work for publication consideration, but they are ineligible to win prizes while on our staff (including volunteers).
- Submit via Submittable only. We do not accept email submissions.
- There is a $4.99 fee for each submission (up to 5 pieces in a submission). You may submit as many times as you’d like, but each submission must be made separately with a separate fee. The fee helps us with needed administration and journal production costs, but it’s not meant to be too inhibitive. If you are unable to pay, please email us for an alternative submission method.
- Each paid submission comes with a digital copy of our latest poetry anthology, Spectral Lines: Poems about Scientists ($9.99 value). There is an additional option to purchase the next triennial Luminaire Award print anthology (publishing in 2026) as an add-on for a discount ($4 off the final cover price, shipped free worldwide).
- It is highly recommended that you read our past Luminaire Poetry Award finalists and winners.
- We will send a response and notification of the winners to every submission by the end of April. Form response only, unless we are interested in publishing your work. We are regretfully unable to provide feedback.
- If you’re ready to submit, head on over to Submittable.
Past Luminaire Poetry Award Winners
2023 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
We are running a little behind due to the volume of work submitted, but the 2023 semifinalists are currently being read and decided. If you have an unanswered single poetry submission of any kind in the queue, no matter how old it is, it has rolled over to this award year and will be read with the 2023 submissions and decided by the end of July 2023.
2022 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
Will be updated here soon.
2021 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
Will be updated here soon.
2020 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
Will be updated here soon.
2019 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
1st Place: “MacMahan Island” by Sarah Anderson
2nd Place: “Molcajete” by Angelica Esquivel
3rd Place: “Living in English” by Threa Almontaser
4th Place: “‘A Paper Doll Speaks’ or ‘Sometimes I Don’t Feel Like a Woman’ in Three Parts” by Shay Alexi
5th Place: “(Han)kuk” by Esther Ra
2018 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
1st Place: “Waking to Pablo Neruda Pumping My Chest” by Lindsey Thäden
2nd Place: “Confiteor 2” by Teresa Sutton
3rd Place: “Broken Waltz, City Street” by S. R. Aichinger
4th Place: “Post-Script: Denali” by Andrea L. Hackbarth
5th Place: “You Are Not Just Anything” by Mason O’Hern
2017 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
1st Place: “I Thought Pigeons Were Vegetarians” by Barrett Warner
2nd Place: “What form this time” by Torrie Valentine
3rd Place: “things / i know to be true, / but will never prove” by Omotara James
4th Place: “Insomnia” by Barrett Warner
5th Place: “My Father at the Funeral” by Helen Park
6th Place: “Bird Woman of Wonder Valley” by Cynthia Anderson
7th Place: “Sacks of Cells” by Brendan Walsh
8th Place: “Where There Is a Life, There Is a Hope” by Brendan Walsh
9th Place: “Logged” by Barrett Warner
10th Place: “Grocery Shopping” by Rebecca Gould
11th Place: “Misreading Belfast as Breakfast in a Poem” by C. C. Russell
12th Place: “Ten Cents” by Gary Beaumier
2016 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
1st Place: “Baldwin Apples” by Sarah Ann Winn
2nd Place: “Coralee Robbins Mafficks the Fall of Art” by Amy Wright
3rd Place: “vii. (the leviathan)” by Mary Buchinger
4th Place: “we move as dust” by Michael Bernicchi
5th Place: “the thing is, you see” by Normal
6th Place: “PSU Harrisburg” by Chris Middleman
7th Place: “Herding Autumn” by Kaye Spivey
8th Place: “Foot Sonnet” by Brendan Walsh
9th Place: “Nobody plays in firehydrant fountains but Tegs Turpin” by Amy Wright
10th Place: “Mumbai, 11th March, 15.30” by Rinzu Rajan
11th Place: “Hometown Hero” by Aaron Graham
12th Place: “I Consider Whether Shipping Your Memory Home Would Be Too Costly” by Sarah Ann Winn
2015 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
1st Place: “mob of one” by Normal
2nd Place: “Reign” by Jared A. Carnie
3rd Place: “Sewing” by Noel King
4th Place: “Cause Célèbre” by Andrei Guruianu
5th Place: “After Abandon” by Michael Cooper
6th Place: “The Bends” by J. Bradley
7th Place: “Interview with a Rapid Snowfall” by Maison Demuth Olson
8th Place: “October” by Jared A. Carnie
9th Place: “My Afternoons with Dylan Thomas” by Lyn Lifshin
10th Place: “Madame Laveau, Fortune Teller and Police Psychic, Falls off the Wagon with a Resounding Thud” by Jason Ryberg
11th Place: “color & contour” by Maison Demuth Olson
12th Place: “Interstices” by Kelly Jean Egan
2014 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
1st Place: “Low Tide” by Pete M. Wyer
2nd Place: “Miss Valley City, North Dakota” by Charles P. Ries
3rd Place: “William Barret Question Mark” by CEE
4th Place: “Birch Street” by Charles P. Ries
5th Place: “With Apologies to Rose Bonne [The Hall of Ives]” by CEE
2013 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
1st Place: “No Sad Songs in the House of the Sun” by Shauna Osborn
2nd Place: “Influences of Light” by Charles P. Ries
3rd Place: “Another Birthday” by Sean Brendan-Brown
4th Place: “Waiting Tables in Reno” by Doug Draime
5th Place: “Still Victory” by Denis Sheehan
6th Place: “Estimated Losses” by Aleathia Drehmer
7th Place: “We Watch the Horse Fly Home” by Jane Stuart
8th Place: “Stp. Gran. Dad.” by Frankie Metro
9th Place: “Ten Thousand Shields & Spears” by Sean Brendan-Brown
10th Place: “Redhead” by Charles P. Ries
11th Place: “Sometimes” by Doug Draime
12th Place: “Land of Stinkin’ (New Salem, IL)” by CEE
2012 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
1st Place: “Kind to a Spider” by Tim Staley
2nd Place: “Suggestion Box” by Ray Larsen
3rd Place: “how to kill a flower” by Sharon Zeisel
2011 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
1st Place: “Amphitheater” by Gary Every
2nd Place: “Quality Time” by Tim Scannell
3rd Place: “Understanding Anita” by Bob Sharkey
2010 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
1st Place: “Contagious” by Stephanie Hiteshew
2nd Place: “Yardwork” by Gary Every
3rd Place: “Just Another Word” by Pamela Annas
2009 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
1st Place: “The Fall of Miss Sopa, Eater of Clay” by Julie Buffaloe-Yoder
2nd Place: “The Rosebud” by Jason Fisk
3rd Place: “A Mother’s Mantra” by Rebecca Schumejda
4th Place: “on art and war” by justin.barrett
5th Place: “Hayden Carruth Suite” by Glenn W. Cooper
2008 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Poetry
1st Place: “Cleaning Up at the Hamtramck Burger Chef” by Don Winter
2nd Place: “Jumper” by Kevin M. Hibshman
3rd Place: “in the poetry section of brown university bookstore, providence, ri” by Zoe A. Jaimot
Selection & Judging Process
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.”
- We take submissions through Submittable and use its tools and our own to accept incognito submissions. The editor-in-chief has access to the information, but she does not read or accept submissions. While the editor-in-chief determines what is published on our press, she does not make judging decisions for awards.
- We ask submitters not to include their names, contact information, or any identifying marks within the documents, titles, and file names of submissions.
- Staff members of Alternating Current may have pieces published on The Coil or submit pieces for incognito submission consideration, but staff members are not eligible to win award prizes while serving on our staff. This includes volunteers while they are volunteering for our staff.
- For all awards, the editor-in-chief compiles a spreadsheet of all the eligible pieces, makes sure everything is stripped of any contact information, and sends that spreadsheet to the award editor. The award editor ranks the selections to choose the top finalists. The incognito judging decisions are final.
- While the manuscripts are read incognito, the editors are asked to recuse themselves from judging if there are any submissions 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 a conflict, the next finalist in line without conflict shall become the winner, or judges shall recuse themselves from the ranking tallies. 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. Submissions that pose a conflict of interest may still be eligible for publication, even if they are ineligible for prizes.
- The winner is notified prior to announcement. The results are publicly posted online at The Coil and on the press website.
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.