Frequently Asked Questions

Can I send poetry?

We do accept poetry as long as it has a good command of grammar and is properly punctuated. We prefer ‘poetic prose’ and judging considers whether ‘every word counts’ so if your words are best expressed in poetic form, that’s fine.

Must it be exactly 75 words?

We are not excessively fussy about word count as long as it doesn’t go above 80. This is deliberate because it’s easy for people to waffle but it can be challenging and good practice for writers to express themselves in a succinct way. It is also manageable for the judges to read and think about, when many submissions need to be considered. We don’t mind if your fiction consists of only 40 words or less if it says what it needs to, e.g. in a haiku.

Why is the competition FREE?

Bern Ross doesn’t create for money and, after a lifetime of trying to make ends meet, she is now retired with a minimal pension. It is the most regular income she has ever had. She needs to paint and – rather than fill the house with paintings stacked in every room and remaining unseen – she wants to find good homes for her artwork. This is a way that her creativity can make a difference to people’s lives; which is all she really wants for it.

Who pays for the prize?

Modern Art By Post pays for the prize and shipping. The website remains open to sales throughout (which is why entrants are asked to state a second preference) and we trust to Providence that some people, who don’t like writing or competitions, will simply buy the painting(s) they love. And they do.

Who does the judging?

Bern Ross reads every entry and thinks about each one, making notes to help with the final judging. She has a small team of experienced and impartial experts (including a novelist and poet) to call on for advice and a decision if needed.

Why do you offer free feedback?

Bern’s writing name was Bernie Ross and she has previously been a writer, publisher, and tutor for a major Writing School then Director of Writing Life®, her own independent online correspondence course. She has a wealth of experience from being Literary Editor for a publishing company as well as having written literally hundreds of critiques for both newbie and experienced writers; so giving brief and helpful feedback appropriate to the length of the fiction submitted, is a natural development in ensuring her creativity can make a difference to people’s lives. (She has to think about every entry anyway and put her thoughts into words for finding the winner. )

Aren't you undercutting other artists who need to make a living?

Absolutely not. All art is so different, created for different reasons and in different circumstances. Bern’s paintings are not displayed in any galleries, whethercommercial or publicly owned: she is completely independent and self-sufficient. The competition is part of her art, her self-expression; and giving free feedback is another aspect of her creative expression, ultimately with the potential to change people’s lives. She says, "I want to paint, I want my paintings to find good homes; I want to make a difference to people's lives and this is how I can do it."


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