Haruye Ioka and Ping Wu

The Grateful Crane Ensemble will present “Couples by Couples,” a virtual reading series of the late Nisei playwright and poet Hiroshi Kashiwagi’s plays and poetry.

The series will have its online premiere on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 8 p.m. Pacific Time.

Kicking off the series will be a reading of “Blessed Be,” one of three plays featuring Nisei couples written by Kashiwagi, who would have turned 98 on Nov. 8. The short play is about a Nisei poet talking to his wife about why he needs to drive 50 miles out of town just so he could read his poetry and “do his thing.”

Featuring Grateful Crane’s long-time regulars and real-life couple Haruye Ioka and Ping Wu, the play delves into the inner qualities of Japanese Americans and what it was like to be Nisei in the post-war era.

After the reading, Kashiwagi’s final poetry reading at the 2018 Tule Lake Pilgrimage in Klamath Falls, Ore. will also be featured.

“Taken together, you have the play about the poet ‘doing his thing,’ and then you have the actual poet ‘doing his thing’ for the last time, at age 95,” said his son, Soji Kashiwagi, executive director  of Grateful Crane.

Grateful Crane couples Helen Ota and Michael Palma, and Dian Kobayashi and Shaun Shimoda will be reading upcoming couples plays, and Soji Kashiwagi and Keiko Kawashima will be doing a poetry reading featuring favorite poems by Hiroshi Kashiwagi.

To view “Blessed Be,” click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqO52qQ7Zp4

Hiroshi Kashiwagi speaks at the Western Addition Branch Library in San Francisco, where he used to work. (Photo by J.K. Yamamoto/Hokubei Mainichi)

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