A reading of ‘Kamikaze’

In this narrative poem, Beatrice Garland explores the testimony of the daughter of a kamikaze pilot. Unlike many of his comrades, this pilot turns back from his target and returns home.

The poem vividly explores the moment that the pilot's decision is made and sketches out the consequences for him over the rest of his life. Not only is he shunned by his neighbours but his wife refuses to speak to him or look him in the eye. His children, too, gradually learn that he is not to be spoken to and begin to isolate and reject him.

During the Second World War, the term 'kamikaze' was used for Japanese fighter pilots who were sent on suicide missions. They were expected to crash their warplanes into enemy warships. The word 'kamikaze' literally translates as 'divine wind'.

Read the poem here.