You might think that Brooklyn and Manhattan in all their chicness would have a monopoly on spoken reading series in the city, but think again. A public school teacher from Forest Hills, Aida Zilelian, the founder of the Boundless Tales Reading Series in Astoria, has changed all that.
Zilelian, who has written two novels and published numerous short fiction and nonfiction pieces, was making the rounds of various readings in Manhattan and Brooklyn and was turned off by the elitist attitude and stringent requirements to participate, she said.
“I started to realize, it was catering to people who were very established. If you’re published, that’s the prerequisite,” Zilelian said.
“I wanted to create something that was a little more down to earth,” she said. “When you have reading series that are so exclusive, it can leave a negative impact on you. It’s very discouraging.”
Boundless Tales started two years ago with humble roots. Now, Zilelian has two co-hosts and has to sift through tons of submissions for each reading series.
While she is open to all types of writers, whether they have been published or not, she focuses on quality. A work has to be engaging and “written with a sense of purpose ... something that is going to hold the audience’s interest for 15 minutes,” she said.
Audrey Dimola, 27, a published poet and writer from Astoria and Long Island City, is one the co-hosts. She has performed in other reading series and says Boundless Tales is different from the rest because of the variety of types of pieces audiences will hear.
“Boundless is always very well curated. It’s a prize every time,” Dimola said. “The material runs the gamut from monologues to novels to poetry to spoken. It really goes across the board.”
On Sept. 19, Zilelian and Dimola, along with the chosen readers, met at the Waltz Astoria restaurant on Ditmars Boulevard, where the readings take place. The theme of this reading was “My private war.” Five writers read pieces on subjects from cocaine addiction to Louis Braille.
Andrew Peters, 44, of Kew Gardens, who writes in the queer fiction genre, read an excerpt from his novelette series “Werecat: The Rearing.” He also has a novel called “The Seventh Pleiade” coming out in November.
It was his first time reading at Boundless Tales and he enjoyed the enthusiasm that his friends, family and the audience handed toward his work.
Michelle-Leona Godin, who also goes by the name Dr. ML Godin, 40, from Astoria, had a unique way of performing.
Being blind, she used a PAC Mate Pocket PC with earbuds to hear her words and then read them to the audience. Originally from California, she has produced two shows, “The Star of Happiness: Helen Keller on Vaudeville?!” and “The Spectator & the Blind Man: Stories of Seeing & Not-Seeing.”
She read an excerpt from the latter on Louis Braille.
“It’s in my neighborhood and I adore them as people doing this literature thing in Astoria,” Godin said.
Boundless Tales also attracts writers from outside the borough, such as 36-year-old Thomas Fucanello. The Staten Island native performed monologues including a really personal, uplifting one about going from his cocaine addiction to attending The New School’s Master of Fine Arts program.
“It’s pretty incredible to have a community within a community,” he said about Boundless Tales.
“It’s an exciting reading. I heard an essay, short story, poetry. You go to a lot of readings, they’re geared toward one.”
The next reading is set for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Waltz-Astoria, and the theme will be “departures.”
When: Check boundlesstales.com
23-14 Ditmars Blvd.
Tickets: $10 food/drink minimum