Alternating Current Press is an indie press dedicated to publishing and promoting incredible literature that challenges readers and has an innate sense of self, timelessness, and atmosphere. We love science, history, homebound roots, rural landscapes, place, poetic literary fiction, diverse voices, and all that is electric in the literary world.

We award several annual writing prizes, including The Luminaire Award (best poetry, best prose), The Charter Oak Award (best historical), The Coil Book Award (best published book from a different press), The Spark Book Award (unpublished YA manuscript with STEM or history themes), and The Electric Book Award (unpublished adult manuscript), that reward publication, certificates, medallions, cash honorariums, and more. All submissions to our press are automatically eligible for their respective award categories. There is no separate submission process.

We also feature Microgrants for Marginalized Voices, including The Oblaye Award (Native Americans), Still I Rise Grant (black women), Unsilenced Grant (Muslim American women), and more.

We have a heavily trafficked online journal, The Coil, that features fresh content daily. To submit interviews, reviews, columns, editorials, timely personal essays, current event pieces, booklists, or material for our feature columns, please read more here before submitting.

We pay all of our authors for their work.

Read all general guidelines here.

Read about calls for submissions for special projects here

Read about judging processes and code of ethics here.

Read about submission transparency and acceptance rates here.

Visit our catalog here.

We Meant to Bring It Home Alive: Poems by Armin Tolentino

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From astronauts drifting lost through space to whalers hauling dragon weight through dark waters to fossil hunters of the 19th-century Bone Wars, the voices within this poetry collection all seek one uniting thing: connection. The epic sweep of Moby Dick meets Space Age exploration inside the lyrics of Bowie songs on the cusp of an apocalypse, all within the forgotten dreams of a fisherman or a whaler or a devil-dodger or a lizard man. Exploring distance, forgiveness, disconnection, and regret, the speakers—regardless of their fantastical or absurd situations—are simply people severed from their loved ones, their gods, their faith, or what they once believed was true about the world. They confront their doubts by flinging letters out into the darkness, relying on answers that never come. Feeble efforts. Messages in bottles. Prayers and apologies. But still each is hoping someone, something is listening across the expanse.

Spectral Lines: Poems about Scientists by 62 Authors

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At the intersection of science and poetry, strange things happen. There exists such a bizarre human experience and shared understanding, that we can’t help but admire and celebrate it. It’s transcendent—the crossover of discovery and beauty. The physical solid realism and the ethereal intangible ideas. The inexplicable, the long-desired solutions, the struggle that comes in between. Exploring this intersection with 69 poems by 62 poets, this anthology is nothing if not transcendent in its own right. Each poem is written about an individual scientist, the fundamentals and atmosphere of each scientist—something humanistic that breathes life into his being, into her work, into their experiment. From microbiologist parents to role-model mentors to LGBT kinship with ostracized queerness to the women who’ve been written out of discoveries to the underdogs overlooked for Nobels, the pieces are searching and full of light, passionate and full of awe.

Portraits: Poems by B. Z. Niditch

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Through the eyes of a war-child violin prodigy who came of age in the era of Beat and Post-Beat poets comes this collection of homages, profiles, and brief flashes of singsong odes to pop culture and The Greats of centuries past. With the stream-of-consciousness that bookended the Beat age, Niditch—a longstanding staple of the outlaw poetry scene—taps into his love of jazz rhythms, the nature of oceanside New England, and the poets, artists, filmmakers, musicians, and theatrical performers who were his poetic forebears and influences through decades of shifting culture. From war-time French poets to ostracized gay artists to pop icons to persecuted religious and political prisoners, Niditch splashes bright acrylic over the canvas of analysis and essence, pulling from a bygone era its nuances and lasting legacies, and framing them in the lens of contemporary artistic, political, and social awareness. Book One in our Wardenclyffe Series of books preserving the words of Beat and Post-Beat poets.

Footnote #2: A Literary Journal of History with Historical Fiction, Nonfiction, & Poems by 30 Authors

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In this issue, you’ll meet Jack the Ripper, Fanny Hooe, Jesse James, Geronimo, Lewis & Clark, Nikolai Vavilov, and the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald. You’ll learn of the catastrophic Hartley Colliery mining disaster, the woman who went over Niagara Falls in a barrel, the lost language of the Clatsop, harvesting sugar beets during World War II, how Commonwealth Indians were treated during World War I, and the costs of artistic patronage. You’ll discover what Dorothy was like during the Great Depression and how Lucile Fitch gave birth to an atomic bomb. Writers speak about deafness, queerness, and birth control in the face of Margaret Sanger’s and Alexander Graham Bell’s abhorrent eugenics rants, alongside the effects of the Oklahoma City bombing, erasure poems of Jules Verne, and the sacrifices of historical witchcraft. The Featured Writer, Holly M. Wendt, mines 18th-century newspapers for clippings about lost items, weeks at sea, feminism, and transporting lions.

The Sky Is a Free Country: The Luminaire Award Anthology, Volume 1, with Fiction & Poems by 23 Authors

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The first collected triennial volume of winners of the Luminaire Awards for Best Prose and Best Poetry for the years 2014 through 2016. Features 13 gut-punching short stories and 15 heart-rending poems by various authors, each piece having won out over hundreds of others to be selected as the best work of its respective year through a blind judging process. Walk with storytellers through tales of domestic violence, children disappearing on spaceships, a car-parts thief at the scene of an accident, a gravedigger pulling the plug on a childhood nightmare, attending Santa Claus school, telling your secrets to strangers, and a dangerous proposal for fertility. Explore Tennessee, chase bombmakers out of hostage situations, come of age, stand at the Alamo, walk down Birch Street, pick apples, and return to your roots in these stories and poems by some of the independent press’ finest contemporary writers.

Poiesis Review #7: A Literary Journal with Fiction, Nonfiction, & Poems by 26 Authors (Theme: Desire & Memory)

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Poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction in 140 pages of writing by some of the best writers in the independent press today. This issue focuses on the theme of “Desire & Memory.” One of the only literary journals in existence that features a blend of today’s up-and-coming promising rookies alongside the staples and legends of the last few decades in the literary underground. A fantastic smattering of the writers’ spectrum and cross-section of all walks of the literary world—what Wisconsin Regional Writers Association Award winner Charles P. Ries called “young blood running with old blood.” The Featured Writer in this final print issue is traveloguist Jonathon Engels, writing with candor and humor about everything from Texas to motorcycles to how to pack for an overseas vacation. His work is showcased beside 26 other artists and over 65 pieces of writing, sandwiched between stunning cover artwork by artist Loui Jover.

Second Acts in American Lives: Flash Shorts by Ryan Ridge & Mel Bosworth

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Equal parts prose-poems, flash stories, riddles, and mythological prologues to the lives of spent Americans—struggling, murderous, born again, drug-addled, sexual, hopeful, despairing, soaring—this collection stands on the edge of genre definition and questions what it means to be at the cusp of living. Punchlines, plays on words, dad puns, and yo’ mama jokes straddle the saddle with deep metaphorical lessons on society today, making companions of dark humor and serious wit. A séance of poetics and politics, this collection of glimpses into the disheveled and desperate, the cerebral and celebrated, the gangly and glorious, conjures what it is to be American in a society as stupid as it is terrifying. “A collection of wildly imaginative capsules of surrealist Americana. The short punchy pieces are chaotic enough to be funny and tragic enough to be heartbreaking.”Preview Massachusetts Magazine. Illustrated by Jacob Heustis.

Eats of Eden: A Foodoir (Essays, Memoir, Recipes) by Tabitha Blankenbiller

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These essays of tasty bites, writing, coming-of-age, family, sex, self-esteem—and above all, overcoming personal odds to live your best life—are complete with mouth-watering recipes and memories that will change your relationship with food forever. From self-identity to love affairs with the sinking of the Titanic to cheese snobbery to reconciling the unanswered questions of a lost friendship, the home-loving socialite at the heart of this memoir dishes and dines on fashion, feminism, fabulousness, and food. Eats of Eden follows a year of attempting to write a novel, and the daily life, occasional revelations and passions that feed, distract, complicate, and enrich that process—in the author’s case, constant detours into the kitchen. It’s a book about writing, eating, and surviving in the modern west, from literary hustling at the Doug Fir Lounge, to waiting for life-altering emails around a stew-cooking campfire at Crater Lake.

Solstice to Solstice to Solstice: A Year of Sunrises in Poems by Allison Boyd Justus

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Against a backdrop of loss and exhaustion, in the searching tradition of Walden, Bluets, and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, the speaker of Solstice to Solstice to Solstice chronicles the in-breaking of day in a quest to see and to be seared by seeing, to know what can be known, to find truth sturdy as clapboards and joy robust enough to get her through each coming day. Allison Boyd Justus’ collection of freeform and prose poetry captures every sunrise during the 2009-10 solar year—from solstice to solstice and back to solstice—and each cyclical dawn brings something new and fresh, bursting with color, internal compasses, and astronomical guides. Through it all, beauty, introspection, hope, and felicity remind us to embrace every day in its new light. “A book that is as much prayerlike supplication as it is physical phenomenon.” —Anthony Michael Morena, author of The Voyager Record: A Transmission

A Room in Dodge City: A Novel-in-Vignettes by David Leo Rice

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A Room in Dodge City follows a nameless drifter into an American heart of darkness. In this nightmarish version of the historic Dodge City, mythic beasts crawl out of the woodwork; bizarre rituals are enacted; and death is never the end. Equal parts humor and horror-show, David Leo Rice’s novel combines the mundaneness of modern life—motels, strip malls, temp jobs—with something stranger, darker, and more eternal. Told through linked vignettes that read like metaphoric fairytales gone wrong, Dodge City consumes the reader just as it slowly consumes the drifter, leaving all to wonder whether any of us can ever truly escape this world—or our own. “With a draftsman’s hand and a psychonaut’s eye, Rice has mapped the alien precinct in which we already live. I’ve never encountered a book so strange yet so familiar.” —Joanna Ruocco; “David Lynch meets Neil Gaiman meets Samuel Beckett and the Theater of the Absurd.” —Nick Antosca. Illustrated by Christina Collins.

The Girl Wakes: Fairytales & Stories by Carmen Lau

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Dark, strange, lyrical, and full of frustrated desire and whimsy, Carmen Lau’s debut collection of stories and novellas paints a vivid picture of femininity in the clutches of fantasy, reflecting the brutality of growing up a girl and challenging readers to rethink fairytales as they’ve always known them. Within, you’ll find a tender heart, a painful core, and a paradoxically disastrous and beautiful coming-of-age of every and any girl, told through original fairytales that mirror real life and are at once contemporary and timeless. Joining the ranks of Angela Carter, Kate Bernheimer, and Allyse Near, Lau weaves tales of a girl who is too fantastical to be real and too real to be fantasy. “A beautifully vicious first collection of retrofitted fairytales, with whip-smart swerves, darkly funny moments, and razor-sharp language.” —Brian Evenson, author of Windeye and ALA-RUSA Award-winner Last Days. Illustrated by Christina Collins.

Moon Up, Past Full: Novellas & Stories by Eric Shonkwiler

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As Faulkner’s voice portrayed the South and Breece D’J Pancake’s represented Appalachia, Eric Shonkwiler captures the Midwest, with this collection of novellas and short stories that peels back the edges of rural existence to expose the heart of it. Through parental neglect, rebellious sons and daughters, drug-addled war veterans, backwoods zombies, injured firemen, car thieves, and witch doctors, Shonkwiler brings you a disregarded world you can no longer ignore—one thriving with the mundane, the bruised, the unheard. Here is the voice of the rest of us, spoken only the way firsthand experience, rooted deep in overworked soil, can say it. “Shonkwiler’s stories capture the rural experience rarely heard—the quiet, dangerous voices of the desperate, struggling for honor among thieves. A stark and timely slice of Americana gothic that both razes and rebuilds.” —Paula Bomer, author of Nine Months and Inside Madeleine. Illustrated by Christina Collins.

Footnote #1: A Literary Journal of History with Historical Fiction, Nonfiction, & Poems by 47 Authors

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Within these covers fantastically drawn by artist Terry Fan, you’ll meet the Romanovs, Serbian poet Vojislav Ilić, Dr. Zhivago, Stephen Crane, Geronimo, Lord Strathcona, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. You’ll learn of the misprint in Herman Melville’s obituary, the constellations in the Southern Planisphere mapped out by Nicolas de La Caille, what might have been exchanged between William Wordsworth and Thomas Carlyle, how Laura Cereta thrived on insomnia, and who’s buried in the cemeteries at Père-Lachaise and Montparnasse. Our first Featured Writer, A. Jay Adler, will take you through Jewish life on the Lower East Side, Van Gogh’s mental asylum, Route 66, and the bordello rooms of Old-West Tombstone. Our second Featured Writer, Jesseca Cornelson, will take you through the Tablet of Daughters, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville’s journals of the South, and a history of her home state of Alabama’s unfortunate past with racial lynchings.

The Poor Man’s Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide: Southern Stories by Schuler Benson

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Twelve stories, fraught with an unapologetic voice of firsthand experience, that pry the lock off of the addiction, fanaticism, violence, and fear of characters whose lives are mired in the darkness of isolation and the horror and the hilarity of the mundane. This is the Deep South: the dark territory of brine, pine, gravel, and red clay, where pavement still fears to tread. “A portrait of people contending with death, the possibility of death, and, ultimately, the lives they’ve made for themselves. Each story opens intimately–every landscape, every character becomes familiar. Reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor at her best, this is a collection that is at once beautiful and uncomfortable, pushing the reader from one page to the next and deeper still into each of the lives encapsulated here. A killer read.” —Kat Dixon, author of Here/Other. Illustrated by Ryan Murray and Patrick Traylor.

Poiesis Review #6: A Literary Journal with Fiction, Nonfiction, & Poems by 40 Authors

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Welcome to our first issue of Poiesis Review to contain fiction and creative nonfiction right alongside the poetry you’ve always loved. The Featured Writers in this issue are Norman Mailer Award finalist Nathan Graziano; Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate, two-time NEA Fellowship recipient, and Pushcart Prize nominee Sean Brendan-Brown; and multiple Pushcart Prize nominee and three-time PEN grant recipient (and now the late) Doug Draime. Their work is showcased beside 37 other artists and over 100 pieces of writing, including two of Alternating Current’s six 2013 Pushcart Prize nominations, the two grand-prize winners and four honorable-mention winners of our 2013 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry and Best Prose, and stunning cover and back cover art by the tremendously talented Terry Fan. “Inside are some of the finest contemporary small press writers plying their trade in the independent scene today.” —Doug Holder, editor at Ibbetson Street Press

Girl Friend & Other Mysteries of Love: Love Poems by Charles P. Ries

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A meditation on the ebb and flow of love in these changing times. The screw-ups, suck-ups, epiphanies, black holes, celestial awakenings, and confusions of the thing considered mystical to some, and impossible to others. Told from the perspective of a middle-aged lover-in-training, these poems have all the joy and all the pain and all the wonder, but resonate through eyes that have traveled a few miles down that sometimes-lonesome highway of romance. While the young may suffer from love, it takes an experienced traveler to understand what to make of it. Ries is guide, guru, therapist, participant, and equal-opportunity opportunist, as well as the blind leading the lost. Yet, through it all, his true north remains love, and his destination remains this singular realization of what it is to be fully alive and human.

Alternating Current