Antoni Jach, a final year student of the class of 1973, recently returned to Parade College to accept the Distinguished Old Paradian Award and to present a newly-struck writer’s award in his name.
Antoni received his award from College Principal Dr Denis Moore, before addressing the students who had gathered in College Hall at the Bundoora Campus for Term 2 Assembly.
He then presented the Antoni Jach Writer’s Award to Year 12 student Francis Cau for his book My First Lesson (2016), and to Year 11 student Alexander Senese-Jones for his tome The Cry of The North (2017).
The following is Andy Kuppe’s introduction of Antoni, and Antoni’s address to the gathering;
Dr Denis Moore, guests, staff and students,
It is my pleasure today to introduce Antoni Jach, who will be awarded by Br Denis the Distinguished Old Paradian Award.
Writing seems to flow through Antoni’s ancestral veins.
Antoni comes from Polish and Irish stock. His father, Wladyslaw was a published writer and poet. Antoni’s grandfather was the mayor of a Polish village and spent most of World War II in a Nazi concentration camp.
Antoni’s mother Margaret was descended from the Clancys of Castletownroche in Ireland and her forebears on her mother’s side arrived in Melbourne on 4 November 1841. It is claimed that Margaret’s grandfather, Thomas Gerald Clancy, was the basis for Banjo Paterson’s poems ‘Clancy of the Overflow’ and ‘The Man from Snowy River’. As followers of Edmund Rice and Ambrose Treacy, in true Irish tradition, if that story is not true, it should be true!
Antoni was in one of the first groups that began and ended their schooling here at the Bundoora Campus of Parade, completing Year 12 in 1973.
Antoni completed a BA in English and Art History at La Trobe University and began teaching at RMIT University in 1986 where he taught for 25 years.
He facilitates one of the most highly regarded creative writing courses in Australia. Some of our Parade students will be the beneficiaries of his skills in a workshop later today.
He is married with two children.
Antoni has written five works of fiction; a book of poetry and two plays. Many of these are award winning.
He has also created a series of artists videos and his own paintings have been on display in an exhibition at Le Globo in Paris.
Antoni is truly committed to creativity in all its forms, both in his own work and his gifted ability to encourage and draw that out in others.
Br Denis, boys, staff and guests I present to you your distinguished Old Paradian, Antoni Jach. I invite Br Denis to present Antoni with this award and then I invite Antoni to address us.
Thankyou Andy, thankyou to Brother Moore, and thankyou to the boys who spoke so eloquently earlier.
While I don’t have long to speak, with 2000 of you in the room perhaps five of you will become published writers – and that’s really exciting. But you need support, you need people to be on your side, and you need the support of eachother to get there as well.
Sigmund Freud talked about a concept called “The Golden Seed”. Now The Golden Seed is when someone believes in you, someone – it could be a parent, it could be a teacher, it could be a relative - says ‘you can do this. You have the ability to succeed at becoming a writer, becoming a playwright, becoming a painter. And that is crucial – crucial that someone is there on your side, defending you and supporting you – and you can do it for eachother. You can form networks, you can form peer groups where you support eachother.
You have to put in the hours. Malcolm Gladwell talks about 10,000 hours to become good at what you do – 10,000 hours to become good at writing or painting or being a playwright. That is a lot of time - that’s four hours a week for ten years – but the artistic life has a lot of rewards.
There are a lot benefits and there is a lot of satisfaction from the artistic life. Rodin the sculptor said ‘Follow your calling with passion – it is the meaning of your life”. So find something that you want to do, find something that helps you to get out of bed in the morning and find something that inspires a sense of passion – and the artistic life is something that will give you a lot of pleasure and will give you a lot of pain. And with that pleasure and pain you keep on going – don’t be disrupted by the rejections – the constant rejections if you’re a writer, painter, playwright, whatever. The rejections are part of the journey, part of the process, and that’s what you have to put up with, that’s what you have to cherish and that’s what you have to embrace.
It’s terrific to be here, thankyou for the award, and it’s great to see the whole community in front of me. I left Parade in 1973 and I had a number of excellent teachers at Parade, Br. Greening in particular, the Principal at the time; Brother Lane; and Mr Colvin, who was an outstanding teacher. He was someone who cared about the boys, he got to know all the boys, he found out what was happening with them and he exhibited genuine care and genuine love towards the boys, and that was fantastic.
The school has obviously changed since I was there. It’s grown.
One of the last things I’ll say today . . . if you can look after eachother, support eachother and help eachother on the journey; in terms of the arts and writing, writing in particular it’s tougher than ever before – but there are more opportunities than ever before because we in a globalised society, so the competition for writers is now global, not just Australia-wide – but that raises incredible opportunities for you.
So I’ll say thankyou for this award, thankyou for the privilege of speaking to you and have a happy, productive and prosperous lives.