News from the world of No You Tell It

We Laughed, We Cried, We Sighed

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, ALL, for a fantastic evening of story swaps, Astoria history, and music at our “Left My Heart” show! Full program here. To quote Catherine Kapphahn, “We laughed and cried and sighed.”

Interested in Catherine’s book Immigrant Daughter: Stories You Never Told Me, which was featured at the show. Grab your copy here.

Sorry you missed? Never fear, subscribe to watch the show on YouTube. Coming soon!

A huge shout out to Bob Singleton, Executive Director of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, for his amazing insights into Tony Bennett’s life and music.

Read Bob’s imaginary interview with Tony Bennett in the Queens Gazette created directly from quotes from the Astoria legend and the inspiration for our ART HEART event.

Big thanks to:

  • Everyone who came out last night with open hearts.
  • The storytellers for sharing such intimate tales of love and strength.
  • The creative team for helping to bring this night to life.
  • Grove 34 for the perfect space and help getting set up.
  • Greater Astoria Historical Society for the amazing insights into Tony Bennett’s life and music.
  • Flushing Town Hall for all their support! Check out other upcoming Queens grantee events here.
  • New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and New York Foundation for the Arts.
  • AJV Media for filming and photographing the event.

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for a photo album from the event, along with podcast episodes and more. If you didn’t win a copy during story trivia, the No, YOU Tell It! Ten-Year Anthology is available here.

2024 Queens Art Fund Recipient

We are excited to share that in addition to being supported by our Flushing Town Hall Queens Community Arts grant, we are a 2024 Queens Arts Fund grant recipient!

We are proud to represent the borough of Queens and bring the first of two 2024 shows, in partnership with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, to Grove 34 in Astoria on June 5th!

The Queens Arts Fund offers project grants to Queens-based artists, artist collectives, and small non-profit organizations of all artistic disciplines to support the local production of artwork and cultural programs that highlight, engage, and bolster the borough of Queens.

It is administered by New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) in partnership with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA).

Please click here for the full award announcement.

No, YOU Tell It! received an Arts Access Grant, which is a $1,000 to $5,000 grant that is offered to Queens-based small-budget 501c3 nonprofit organizations or unincorporated artist collectives. These grants support community-based organizations and collectives in their efforts to produce public arts and cultural programs in the communities across the borough of Queens.

All recipients must have a public component–held in-person, virtually, or combination of both–in Queens within the 2024 calendar year to provide Queens community members with the opportunity to experience dynamic, easily accessible arts and cultural events. Follow the hashtag #QAF2024 for details on upcoming events.

Get your tickets here to join us on June 5th for No, YOU Tell It! “Left My Heart,” and thank you for being part of our continued creative journey!

Fantastic Art Heart Event!

On Saturday, we kicked off our upcoming “Left My Heart” show with a fantastic Queens community-building event at Sunnyside Arts.

Join us at Grove 34 on June 5th to hear how the true tales inspired by Tony Bennett’s life and music that we brainstormed together evolved. Get your tickets here, and tell friends! 

The four NYTI storytellers, creative team, and fun friends engaged with this imaginary interview published in the Queens Gazette by Bob Singleton, Executive Director of the Greater Astoria Historical Society.

“Although the interview is imaginary, the quotes are real. When I started to do research to write something about Tony Bennett, I checked the Notable Quotes page on the in­ternet and found a cornucopia of comments by him and it immediately hit me that if they were brought together, it would be very reveal­ing of the man and his career, as well as his roots within the community, his hometown of Astoria. They seemed to fit a pattern and with a few hours of sorting I had an interview that he never did, but his words revealed so much of a very humble, yet extraordinary artist who always valued his deep roots in the commu­nity.”

—Bob Singleton

The Art Heart: Storytelling and Portrait Trading workshop was co-lead by our own Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons and upcoming “Left My Heart” storyteller Zach Rothman-Hicks of Gabbing with Gays, an ongoing archive of Emotional Intimacy in the LGBTQIA+ community.

First, participants took turns reading the interview aloud and reflected on Tony Bennett’s life, art, and philosophies while listening to his music. Here are some highlights:

It was amazing how humble he seemed even when achieving so much. I live by the philosophy to always keep learning, so his thoughts on getting better/longevity are refreshing to hear. The note about the bartender in Arkansas (about “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”) is so cute – I wonder if he did end up buying the first record!

Despite seeing all of the horrors of WWII, he didn’t have bitterness or regret but walked forward.

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga were like two unlikely food flavors that somehow fit together.

Quintessentially old school, at the same time, he embraces what’s going on in the present.

I was surprised that “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was originally the B-side of the record, but after hearing “Once Upon a Time,” I understand. That it is also a fabulous song. 

He made music for everyone, not just the young. I want adult music!

Is life a gift when life aligns with your gift?

Where are the negative feelings? Are they transformed into art?

Anywhere Tony Bennett performs (regardless of the size of the venue), he is 100% there. 

You need to take care of yourself and your health to be an artist. If we are dead, we can’t do anything.

Look at nature. It’s always going to change.

Next, we brainstormed personal stories inspired by the reflection and an “I Left My Heart in…” fill-in-the-blanks freewriting activity. Then, we paired people up, and they interviewed each other to learn more about the personal story they chose to share with their partner.

Finally, the story partners traced each other’s faces on transparency paper and incorporated what they heard in their stories to create a composite portrait of their partner.  The results were fantastic and will be on display at the show!

Happy 12-Year Anniversary

We are excited and grateful to celebrate 12 years of switched-up storytelling. Click here to read how it all began on May 8, 2012, in the No, YOU Tell It! Ten-Year Anthology foreword and take a look at NYTI “Over the Years” highlights below.

CELEBRATE with us this Saturday, May 11, at ART HEART: STORYTELLING AND PORTRAIT TRADING pay-what-you-wish community event at Sunnyside Arts from 2 to 4.

Meet and share stories with the No, YOU Tell It! “Left My Heart” storytellers. Then GRAB YOUR TICKETS HERE for our June team-up show with the Greater Astoria Historical Society at Grove 34 in Astoria.

Keep it going! Click here to donate in support of a new decade of No, YOU Tell It!

Art Heart: Storytelling and Portrait Trading

Join us for Art Heart: Storytelling and Portrait Trading on Saturday, May 11th (2-4 pm) at Sunnyside Arts. Register here.

Participants will engage with the music and history of Astoria native Tony Bennett from the archives of the Greater Astoria Historical Society to inspire and trade personal stories with a partner.

Then, the story partners will trace each other’s faces on transparency paper and incorporate what they heard in their stories to create a composite portrait of their partner.

All are welcome to this pay-what-you-wish Queens community building event and kick-off for our June No, YOU Tell It! “Left My Heart” show. Questions? Contact

Workshop Facilitators

Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons is a writer, educator, and storyteller. Her recent work has appeared in HiLoBrow, Marie Claire, Hippocampus Magazine, and numerous anthologies. She designs and teaches college essay writing workshops through The Center for Fiction, House of SpeakEasy’s SpeakTogether program, and at high schools nationwide. She is the producer of No, YOU Tell It!, a nonfiction series that brings storytellers together to trade tales, speak each other’s words, and empower voices on the page and stage. Kelly Jean is also the editor of the No, YOU Tell It! Ten-Year Anthology, available from Palm Circle Press. Follow @noyoutellit for more.

Zach Rothman-Hicks is an educator and multimedia conceptual artist who creates interactive performances and projects intended to spark reflection, dialogue, and action. He has been a New York City Public School teacher since September 2009 and an Adjunct Lecturer at Hunter College since 2012 and Queens College since 2022. In April 2020, while a student in the PIMA MFA Program at Brooklyn College, he initiated Gabbing with Gays, a project that explored Emotional Intimacy in the LGBTQIA+ community. This project inspired future interactive art pieces, which were presented at the Staten Island Museum, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, the Newhouse Center, Alice Austen House, Easton Mountain, Queens Public Library, Hunters Point Park Conservancy, Chashama, Culture Lab, and the 14th Street Y.

André Knights is a Health and Wellness Instructor and certified LMT. He has worked with at-risk youth in an alternative school setting in the New York City Department of Education for more than 20 years. Prior to this, he worked in the Adult Literacy Program at the Brooklyn Public Library. He and Zach have collaborated on numerous social practice art projects since 2021.


Queens Community Arts Grant

We are extremely grateful to Flushing Town Hall for awarding No, YOU Tell It! a Queens Community Arts Grant as part of the Statewide Community Regrants program funded by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).

Click here for the full list of grantees. This funding will support two special 2024 Queens shows produced in partnership with the Greater Astoria Historical Society.

First up! Save the date for No, YOU Tell It! “Left My Heart” on June 5th at Grove 34 in Astoria.


Carl Banks
January Yoon Cho
Catherine Kapphahn
Zach Rothman-Hicks

NYTI Creative Team:
KJ Fitzsimmons
Pichchenda Bao
Erika Iverson
Tim Lindner

Thank you, FTH and NYSCA!!

Celebrating “College Try”

One year ago, we had a very special show at Symphony Space! View this glimpse of how our shows work and highlights from the “College Try” story swaps.

Huge thank you to “Here & Gone” storyteller and friend Rosalie Chandler who created this fantastic featurette for us.

The show also raised funds and awareness for Bottom Line, an educational nonprofit that partners with thousands of degree-aspiring students from under-resourced communities as they get into college, graduate, and go far in life.

Learn more at Want to support or attend Bottom Line’s HATS OFF! Spring Benefit on May 22 at the Tribeca Rooftop? Contact us at for more info.

Stories Highlighted:

  • A Trophy-Less Life by Brett Felder, Performed by Dion Flynn and Directed by Ellie Dvorkin Dunn
  • Buried by Dion Flynn, Performed by Brett Felder, and Directed by Ellie Dvorkin Dunn
  • The Pickles Pickle by Kevin Allison, Performed by Najah Imani Muhammad and Directed by Nicole Shawan Junior
  • When Billymackin’ Goes Wrong by Najah Imani Muhammad, Performed by Kevin Allison and Directed by Nicole Shawan Junior

Queens Community Events and New Show

Save the dates for these upcoming Queens community events open to all and our NEW SHOW at Grove 34!

Register here for the Queens & Me: Personal Writing Workshop at The Astoria Bookshop. Writers of all levels welcome!

Follow us on FB and Insta for more details on our Art Heart event and upcoming “Left My Heart” show.

Show, Workshops, & Alum Updates!

Our next show is June 5th at Grove 34 in partnership with the Greater Astoria Historical Society. SAVE THE DATE!

But first… Come tell your story at writing workshops led by NYTI producers Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons and Tim Lindner. Kelly Jean leads a monthly Sip & Scribe at Sunnyside Arts.  Register HERE for Friday, March 1.

Plus, don’t miss her “Queens & Me: Personal Writing Workshop” at The Astoria Bookshop on 4/17.

Tim leads a monthly Write with Flights at Departed Soles Brewery in Jersey City. Click HERE to register for this month’s, which is coming up fast on Thursday, February 22.

What have our NYTI Alums been up to? So happy you asked! Here are some fun updates.

Monique Peterson performs at Jimmy’s No. 43 in 2013. Photo by Gili Getz.

SPECIAL WEST COAST SHOUT OUT to MONIQUE PETERSON from our “Alter Egos” show, who will be the only spoken word story performer in the upcoming Center for the Arts open mic showcase in Nevada County, California, this Wednesday, February 21.


GABRIEL BEREZIN produces and hosts the podcast FUGUES.

Gabriel Berezin swaps stories with Courtney Frances Fallon in Ep 38: Blowback Part 2. Give a listen here!

 New episodes coming out next month! What is Fugues? The quick answer – it’s The Moth with neuroscience and music (and a bit of sci-fi…) 

More details at:


ROSALIE CHANDLER is stepping up to perform her “Here & Gone” story from our first team-up show with the Greater Astoria Historical Society next month for RISK!

Rosalie surprises her fellow storytellers with Westinghouse Time Capsule buttons at our “Here & Gone” show at Grove 34.

Helmed by “College Try” storyteller Kevin Allison, RISK! is a live show and weekly podcast where people tell true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public. Come join us to see how Rosalie’s story has grown now that she’s doing the telling.

RISK! Live in NYC & Online 

Thursday, 3/21/24

Caveat, 21 A Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

9:30 PM  / Doors 9:00 PM



CHRIS CROWTHERS (center square) opened up a shop with his husband last year in Narrowsburg, NY!

Project Weekend: Weekend Goods for Good Weekends. Check it out HERE.

Give a LISTEN or WATCH Chris’s story “Watermelon Sugar” in our Anniversary Apart online show from January 2022!

They sell Men’s Clothing + Accessories and Outdoorsy + Weekend Inspired Goods. Follow them on IG: @projectweekendny


Founding member MIKE DRESSEL recently profiled the Choreographer Bruno Isakovic for the Gay & Lesbian Review. Note: The piece hasn’t gone up yet, but it will run HERE soon. Maybe even by the time you check!

Mike Dressel hosts our 2019 “Snapped!” show. Give a listen and read Mike’s intro about our special Stonewall50 story swap at Dixon Place in the NYTI Ten-Year Anthology.

He also has a affiliate site where he’s curated some reading material. Check it out and shop through the link:


MATT STORRS was recently on The Moth (2/13), and you can listen to the episode (available 2/19) here!

Photo: Top left: Matt Storrs; Top right: Maria Rubio; Bottom left: Ellie Dvorkin Dunn interviews Matt Storrs

Give a listen to Matt’s “Punch Up” swap or WATCH the full show live-streamed from Culture Lab.

Matt also filmed Stories from the Stage in Boston on 2/14, and last but not least, keep an eye out for him at the NYC Fringe in April! We’ll share more info as it becomes available.


Congratulations to AIDA ZILELIAN for her newly released novel All the Ways We Lied, which explores the commonality of sisterhood through the eyes of four unforgettable women who have nothing in common except that they are bound by Armenian blood and history.

Upcoming Book Events!

New York/Queens


Rhode Island

  • April 19 – Riffraff Bookstore 
  • April 20 – Watertown Library
  • April 21 – St. Sahag Church

Back in NYC/Queens!

  • April 27 – Lincoln Center: Key speaker for Genocide Awareness
  • May 9 – LIC Book Culture

Top left: Jenn Wehrung; Top right: Story partners Aida Zilelian and Jenn Wehrung; Bottom left: Ellie Dvorkin Dunn and Jenn Wehrun; Bottom right: Aida Zilelian

Give a LISTEN to Aida’s “Punch Up” swap or WATCH the full show live-streamed from Culture Lab. You can also watch other past shows on the NYTI YouTube channel.

Still Reading? THANK YOU for your support. Keep it going!
Spread the word about all these alum updates.
Tell a friend to follow No, YOU Tell It!
CLICK HERE to make a donation through The Field.

That’s all for now. Follow Insta and Facebook for more. NYTI Alums, feel free to send us your news for our next update!

Queens & Me: Personal Writing Workshop

Want to explore writing personal essays? Interested in learning more about Queens’ history? Do both!

Join our own Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons on April 17th (6:30-8 pm) at The Astoria Bookshop for a FREE workshop inspired by our May 2023 No, YOU Tell It! “Here & Gone” show. Space is limited. Click here to reserve your spot today.

Engage with this stunning piece by Astoria-based artist Yelena Tylkina depicting history highlights – Westinghouse Time CapsuleNorth BeachAstoria Pool Sentinels, and The First Photocopy – from the Greater Astoria Historical Society archives, and tell your story!

Get the Queens “Here & Gone” image and view more of Yelena’s artwork via Fine Art America.

Copies of the No, YOU Tell It! Ten-Year Anthology will be available at the workshop.

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