“No-one saves us but ourselves. No-one can and no-one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” Buddha.

This pamphlet of just sixteen poems is published by The Poetry Space – just sixteen poems yet each one so powerful and intensely inspiring that the reader is left feeling that this is a full collection. Wendy’s death in 2015 followed years of being completely bedridden – that these poems were written without the ability to use pen, paper, or keyboard, is a testament to the remarkable strength and commitment of a courageous poet and to the dedicated carers who took down dictation and revised and edited as Wendy spoke.

In Sanskrit Kshanti means ‘patience, forbearance’ ‘unaffected by’ or ‘able to withstand’ – the ability to endure personal hardship, acceptance of the truth, and remain undefeated.

There is a dignity in this writing which invites the reader to focus on the poems dispassionately – Wendy’s direct and honest insight into her own suffering is humbling. In this creative response to her helplessness, these brave and energetic poems never shy away from the reality of her situation:

This room/These four walls/This prison-like place/Is my shrine room

We are drawn into the fragility of life, and how little it can take to change a person’s world:

It doesn’t take much to change the world …… Sudden crash on a football pitch/Brain-damaged at eighteen …… Nervous horse on a stormy night/Paraplegic for life …… Hospital error at six weeks old/Six weeks old …… It doesn’t take much to change your world …… Sometimes life stands still …… for all of us …

In Slowly, slowly Wendy shares with us her anger and frustrations and her gradual coming to terms through spiritual enlightenment:

You bring your news
And I am in turmoil
I have my tantrums
And I ask myself why

But then slowly, slowly
I come to see you
And slowly, slowly
I come to know you
And slowly, slowly
You come to guide me
And always it hurts


And her vulnerability is nowhere better expressed than in the poem Powerless –

I will have to, it seems,
Shed my skin for you,
And let it fall to my feet,
So you may see the very bones of me.

Make of it what you will,
For I will have nothing left to say then.

All out of forgiveness, you see.

The poems in this pamphlet are at once heartbreaking and uplifting, and each one takes you to a different place on the path to enlightenment. They are never hopeless.

Trapped on the inside

Life came to me today,
Through my window,
All feathers and passion
With more colour, intensity, swiftness and determination
Than perhaps I’ve ever known before.

It perched, finally,
Trapped on the inside for once,
And it looked at me.
I spoke to it, calming it,
And then I set it free.

Life came to me today,
Trapped on the inside for once.

I set it free…

I would highly recommend this little pamphlet as one to keep beside you, one which should sit on the top of the pile as a reminder that every moment of life is a celebration. At £5 it is worth every penny and more.

Available from The Poetry Space – http://www.poetryspace.co.uk/2015/12/kshanti-by-wendy-stern/

Many of Wendy’s poems can be found at www.kshanti-poems.uk.
And Buddhist Poetry Review www.buddhistpoetryreview.com/

Valerie Morton was born in London, grew up in Kent and now lives by the River Lea in Hertfordshire. Her collections, Mango Tree and Handprints are available from Indigo Publishing.


  1. I am so grateful for Valerie introducing me to Wendy & the inspiration of her poetry. I intend to read many more of her poems. Thank you. The quote from Buddha at the beginning of Valerie’s review startled me as it is something I always remember my father saying (and I am quite sure he never read any of the Buddha’s teachings 🙂

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