A little help needed. . .

Over the years many of you have asked, “What ever happened to A Haunting Reverence?  It was my favorite book of yours.”  Well, it went out of print, and I, too, have felt sad about its passing.  It was my quietest, most poetic, literary child and may have been the book that was closest to my heart.

So I have decided to reissue it on my own.

But the sad truth is that the title was wrong.  Though I loved it, it misled people and was too abstract.  I am now choosing between two new titles and I want your help.  Please don’t overthink this; just imagine that you are walking down a row of books in a bookstore and you see a spine with one of these titles on it.  Which would be more likely to cause you to stop and pull it out for a closer look?

  1.  Echoes of Forgotten Voices
  2. Whispers of Forgotten Voices

The difference may seem minimal, but it is not.  These are the kinds of decisions I make with every sentence I write in every book.  They matter in a way that lies far below your conscious response and understanding.  Rhythm, texture, unrecognized implications and associations — these are the deep tools a writer employs.  Unless you are writing a book primarily to pass on information, in which case clarity matters most, these subterranean decisions with their subconscious implications are the true “stuff” of a book.  They are the elements that move it from the mind to the heart.

As to these titles, no matter which I choose, the subtitle will be “Listening to the Lessons of the Land.”  But the title, which is what people see and what they refer to, is the “front door” to the book.  I need to know which of the two options most makes you want to knock on that door and be welcomed in.

This will be our book, yours and mine, and I will seek your involvement in different ways.  But the first issue is the title.  You need not write an elaborate response unless you want to.  Just write “whispers” or “echoes” in the “Comments” or “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the post and send it back.  I hope you will take the time to do so.  In your own small way you will be helping to author a book that needs to have its quiet voice heard again.

97 thoughts on “A little help needed. . .”

  1. I choose “Echoes” because it conjures up the feeling of repeated stories passed down.


  2. Julie Williams

    Whispers of Forgotten Voices — for me it’s hands-down this one. Whispers are associated with secrets and the sharing of secrets. They come at you and to you. You seek them out and you can’t wait to take them in. You hold them inside sometimes for way too long. And you share them to those you most trust. Echoes are wonderful, but they are far away and abstract and kind of “in the past.” They bounce off hard surfaces and always sound as if they are just out of reach. Now, I haven’t read the book– though I will as soon as you reissue it — so maybe you want the forgotten voices to always feel just out of reach. Anyway, this was my gut level response. Thanks for opening another door.

  3. Harriet Stephens

    Whispers evokes quiet and calm. That is my vote if that reflects the tone of your book.

  4. Patricia Vigilante

    Echoes of Forgotten Voices pulled me in first. The voices left behind of those that dwelled there, now can be heard. Either choice has me wanting to read this book.

  5. Patti Beavers

    I like your original title. It forefronts quietness, respectful listening and ambiguous forms.

  6. Debra La Fontaine

    Whispers are the spirits speaking to us. With that in mind I am for Whispers of Forgotten Voices.

  7. I liked it, too. That’s why I chose it. But the readers thought otherwise, and I try to listen to my readers. The ambiguity of AHR was simply too much for most people. It didn’t speak to them unless they thought about it. A sad loss.

  8. Echoes remind me of something gone that has returned. Whispers conjures up a different thought process all together. I would go for either one but prefer Whispers.

  9. Echoes for me. Speaks to the fact that the sounds of the land predates the noisy arrival of humankind.

  10. ECHOES for me ! It just rolls off the tongue easier,plus to me ‘echoes’ are something that ring on and on…..it implies it goes on and on…. which I ‘think’ is what you are implying …. Echoes just ‘to me’ something more powerful than a whisper….

    Either way, I will buy it 🙂 Let us know when it comes out !!

  11. Whispers… it reminds me of that little voice we can sometimes hear inside for truth if we listen… when people whisper we have to really listen… an echo just bounces around off of hard surfaces… they are cool too but not like the whispers that life sends us from time to time (when we are lucky AND listening)…. my two cents…

  12. Whisper – It is a secret that you are conferring. That would catch my curiosity in the bookstore. And, if I was buying online if it had Nerburn as the author then I would purchase it no matter what the title.

  13. I haven’t read this book (but I’ll look for it at the library…).

    As for the title, neither title grabs me. I would be more inclined to pick up a book that linked “Forgotten Voices” to why they are meaningful still and why they should not be forgotten.

  14. I go with “Whispers”. I know nothing about the book except for the subtitle you shared here. I have no idea what it’s about or any of the content. But “whispers” does sound more personal. You have to lean in close to hear a whisper; you have to be still, and quiet. An echo is heard more by chance, from a recent and distant sound. Given the subtitle, I think what “whispers” evokes is better because to hear the land, you need to be still and lean in close. And a whisper implies personification of the land, that the land is *alive* and can speak of we will just slow down enough to listen to it.

  15. Whispers…for me this evokes, as others previously shared, that these voices, this wisdom is still speaking. Actively speaking to us in hushed tones that require we still ourselves and offer focused attention to listen and hear the wisdom. Looking forward either way to the re-issue.

  16. P.S. “Whispers” also implies that the land is still speaking, while “echoes” sounds like something fading. If this is connected to indigenous people and/or indigenous beliefs/spirituality, then I think “echoes” would make it sound too much like an Edward Curtis picture— something “in the past” from an era and people that many assume are long gone (instead of still living today). “Whispers” says that the land *still* speaks.

  17. Steve Martens

    Echoes seems to imply a forgotten past, but whispers invokes a feeling that if one is quiet and still, can hear the whispers of elders from the past.

  18. Whispers spoke loud and clear, beckoning one to be quiet and listen. I look forward to reading this book.

  19. barbara samsoe

    Whispers. Many years ago we were hiking in a remote canyon in the Grand Canyon. Our then 18 year old son was closest to me as the rest of the group was quite spread out. I heard a whisper of what could either be a man or a woman. The whisper seemed soulful, peaceful, ancient. I asked our son if he had said something to me. He hadn’t but he had also heard the whisper. It was a very touching and meaningful moment. That is why I choose “whispers.”

  20. My gut reaction is echo. Echo speaks to eternal truths that have been spoken or shared from generation to generation. It feels like these truths “echo” in the ethers and within the land for all time. What a dream it would be to work with you in any way at all Kent.

  21. One of my dreams is to do this book as a crowdsource book and make one of the premiums a book club visit. Or, maybe just to try to get enough funding to do a guerilla book tour that allows me to go to small towns as well as big cities.

  22. First thought Best thought. My gut immediately said “echoes” on the spine in order to arrest and catch the attention of the passing gaze. Simple clear and powerful statement. Agree with Franne above. Whispers has its independent merits also, but possibly be too recondite (esoteric word deliberate) and not inviting enough to the first glance. Will attract, but perhaps a smaller cohort, and your work Kent deserves the largest audience, as we saw with exceptional reception trim our deep listening audience to our two Dialogues on KGNU community listener-supported independent public radio this March re your ever-deepening Neither Wolf Nor Dog elder Dan Trilogy (including The Wolf at Twiilight and The Girl Eho Sang to the Buffalo) — broadcast on KGNU Boulder-Denver and all up and down the Front Range of Colorado,freely archive accessible at:

    http://www.kgnu.org/LivingDialogues/3/6/2016, and


    In the Spirit echo of the timeless wisdom proclamation “All Our Relations”,

    All the very best for you and the great We.



  23. “Whispers” are close at hand and personal; “Echos” are hard to hear and decipher. I’m older now and don’t want to work hard for uncertainty. Nancy

  24. Janie Hougen Peak

    Echoes of Forgotten Whispers – Whispers are subtle, but penetrating; “echoes” connotes the passage of time and the idea that once something is said, it perpetuates. (Okay, I am a bit of a trouble maker.)

  25. Barbara Meyer

    And a book club visit?! THAT would be awesome if you would visit us in Grand Lake, Colorado. You will be on our reading list later this year!

  26. Ginny Weir Lunko

    Both my husband,Greg and I feel Echoes resonates down thru time and space.

  27. Whispers because it lives life to silenced voices and that the voice is alive with instructions. Echoes seem like it only is bouncing back something that has been said and is something that is harder to distinguish what the voice is saying.

  28. Definitely “Echoes”. The whole title rings easier on the tongue and in the mind.

  29. Echoes was my first reaction. It speaks to me of something from the past – like Forgotten Lessons. But I don’t think you can go wrong with either word.

  30. Bonnie Farmer

    “Whispers” says “they” are still out there. Echoes may imply the remnants of something that no longer is.

  31. My gut says “echoes,” but still I struggle. It may be my attachment to the original title because of what this book meant to me as an 8th grader who just met a real writer who gifted her his copy (and signed it, and which she devoured for years).

    Neither rolls of my tongue the way “A Haunting Reverence” does. Any chance “Echoes of the Forgotten” is an option? 😀

  32. JoAnne WIlson

    Those Echoes refuse to be forgotten.
    Agree with Maureen… “The whole title rings easier on the tongue and in the mind.”

  33. Tatian Greenleaf

    “Whispers” suggests something more immediate, perhaps still alive — if not literally then spiritually. I prefer that.

  34. Echos of forgotten voices resonates with me and piques my interest right away.

    best wishes for the republication

  35. Ramona Coyote

    I have not read this book, Ken.
    But according to Goodreads:

    From the vast grandeur of the Great Plains to the dark solitude of the northern woods, from the fierce intensity of a sudden summer storm to the quiet redemption of a perfect blanket of snow, Kent Nerburn pays homage to the land that has shaped the lives and cultures of northern people. Nerburn’s essays range broadly from deeply personal narratives of the author’s experiences among the Ojibwe, to dark meditations on the uncompromising winters of northern Minnesota, to mystical celebrations of water and light. Throughout, Nerburn writes with an incandescent radiance and intellectual passion that are at once elemental, provocative, and startling. Deeply grounded in the struggle for authentic spiritual awakening – a path based on awareness rather than explanation – Nerburn’s words illuminate the intricate subtleties of nature with intimacy and power.

    This…Whisper’s to me…
    Look forward to reading this, and watching the film that is birthing it’s way…

  36. Patricia M. Rall

    Kent–so glad to know you are re-publishing this book–you are so adept at hearing whispers and echoes can sometimes be obtuse as it is often difficult to find the directions from which they come. so obviously I vote for Whispers..

  37. I’m partial to “Echoes”. For me “Whispers” is something that really isn’t meant to be broadly shared.

  38. We think the title Whispers would be better. Whispers seems to be connected to something living. They could still be heard. Echoes are the remainings of something thats already said and gone. They loose power in time. Hope we could help with the decision. Best wishes from Europe!

  39. Echoes has me and pull the book to check the jacket info. Whispers, I pause first, on my trip down the aisle…not as strong. Pull for me.
    Your name takes me to the check-out, book in hand.

  40. My first thought was whisper. Then it occurred to me to combine both…Echoes of Forgotten Voices Now Whispered.

  41. All three are in the same category. If your concern is being too abstract, well, all three are abstract. What’s another concrete way of saying spiritual awakening?

  42. Beverly Maynard

    Echos struck me immediately. But, I REALLY prefer “A Haunting Reverence”. I hope you follow your gut feeling about your original title and KNOW that your audience will be drawn to the book in perfect, meant-to-be, fashion. That this book’s time has arrived. That the Voices have spoken to you so that you are bringing it back. I can see the original title followed by a subtitle, “Echos of Ancestral Voices”. (We don’t want them to be “forgotten”.) Are “Echos” more “haunting” than “whispers” and therefore a better fit to the original tittle that you love? Or perhaps… “Echos of Ancestral Voices” followed by, “A Haunting Reverence”! I love how your books have helped me be the person I am today! THANK YOU!

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