Emily Barker

A Recipe for Exile


Gilberto Gil is six strings sweet into writing
a song that sees The Beatles dance
to axé samba round a kitchen table
paraded with feijoada, rice and farofa.
He takes Domingo no Parque to the TV
and births Tropicália, blows minds.
Even the military government listen and
tap their toes before arresting him, and Caetano,
for “inciting the youth rebellion” – as if
a melody, a lyric, some chords
have the power to rock a regime.
Heads shaved, two months in a Rio prison,
four months under house arrest,
then freed on condition they leave the country.
As Neil Armstrong touches the moon,
the two play a final show in Salvador
to pay for flights to London.

Candomblé beads swing to Abbey Road hummed
over the beat of an underground train to Camden
where The Rolling Stones soundcheck Gimme Shelter
and welcome duos majestades to the Roundhouse.
The concert carves a compound groove
in the records they will make –
a recipe for exile vinyl-baked
in Notting Hill’s Rasta culture combustion –
Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear.
Add distance, dancers, Monty Python,
Hawkwind, green grass, blue eyes, grey sky,
Hendrix e saudades saudades saudades.

Emily Barker is an award winning singer-songwriter, originally from Bridgetown, Western Australia, best known as the writer and performer of the theme to the BBC’s crime drama Wallander starring Kenneth Branagh. As well as composing for film and television, she has released numerous critically acclaimed albums and tours internationally and has recently turned her hand to poetry. Barker’s poem ‘Bonsai’ came 2nd in the Wolverhampton Literature Festival 2023, ‘River song’ was longlisted for the Australian Book Review’s ‘Peter Porter Poetry Prize 2022’, ‘Knowledge’ shortlisted for the ‘Aesthetica Creative Writing Award: Poetry 2022’, ‘That time I was Aretha Franklin’s niece’ longlisted for the Keats-Shelley poetry prize, ‘Sea Frequencies’ longlisted for the Mslexia Poetry Competition 2023, and others published in Magma, Poetry Ireland Review, Hecate Journal, Quadrant, 192 Magazine, StylusLit, and many more.

To discover more content exclusive to our print and digital editions, subscribe here to receive a copy of The London Magazine to your door every two months, while also enjoying full access to our extensive digital archive of essays, literary journalism, fiction and poetry.

Dearest reader! Our newsletter!

Sign up to our newsletter for the latest content, freebies, news and competition updates, right to your inbox. From the oldest literary periodical in the UK.

You can unsubscribe any time by clicking the link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or directly on info@thelondonmagazine.org. Find our privacy policies and terms of use at the bottom of our website.