Chad Parkhill

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Meanjin

What I’m Reading

Published by Meanjin (blog), 12 August 2013. Original post. Detail from The Grand Canal at the Salute Church by Canaletto (1730).

I’ve often envied the relationships that people who don’t work as writers or editors have with books. They seem to read more of them, or at least read them more completely: start to finish, without the distraction of another, competing book that has to be read for research or that long-form article everyone’s been tweeting about—without the hopelessly muddled association of pleasure with duty that characterises my own reading life. Every book you read in this state is an opportunity to dwell on the books you should be reading instead, or should have read long before. To further complicate matters, the reading I do in my professional life is about leisure: specifically, travel. My day job is at Lonely Planet, where I am part of a team of content digitisers whose remit is, broadly, to take the content in Lonely Planet’s well-known series of guidebooks, break it down into its smallest logical units, and organise that content by location and theme. This work itself involves a good deal of reading, since it’s impossible to know how and where to place the content without understanding its context.

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Can’t Do

The Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, 1999–2012

Published by Meanjin (blog), 4 April 2012. Original post. Campbell Newman by Dale Napier (Creative Commons).

They don’t call him ‘Can-Do’ Newman without reason. Yesterday afternoon, a mere ten days after his landslide win in the recent state election, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman announced that his department would scrap the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. The program, which had run for thirteen years from 1999 to 2011, would be discontinued in order to save $244,475 and sundry operational costs. The swiftness and severity of the move was stunning, but the substance of the decision is by no means surprising. Newman and the Liberal National Party ran on a platform of fiscal prudence, eliminating government waste, and easing cost-of-living pressures on ‘ordinary Queenslanders’. His campaign quite explicitly focused on the concerns of middle-class, white, heterosexual Queenslanders over and above ‘special interest groups’. In such a climate, swingeing cuts to arts programs are to be expected. But nobody expected Newman to make such a dramatic gesture as entirely eliminating one of Queensland’s highest-profile arts programs. In so doing, Queensland has now become the only Australian state without a Premier’s Literary Award or its equivalent.

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