Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


“Let my books speak for me”: Dr. Jed Rasula Retires

By Jed Rasula

My books add up to over a million words. Thankfully the number of book covers is more modest, and on the principle that a picture says more than a thousand words, I’m happy to have them make up a parade. Looking back on the 15 titles I published between 1986 and 2022, the covers sort out into these categories.

Several were invented entirely by the publisher [The American Poetry Wax Museum, What the Thunder Said, the anthology Burning City, and the poetry collections Hot Wax and Hectic Pigment]. I didn’t like the cover of Wax at all, but the book made my reputation, so I can’t complain. The others are fetching. But I now find the cover of my last book, What the Thunder Said, a tad busier than I’d like.

Book Covers

I’ve been very lucky with designers who took an image I provided and really made it zing. [This Compost, Syncopations, Modernism and Poetic Inspiration, Acrobatic Modernism, Genre and Extravagance in the Novel, and Wreading] I think they’re all stunning, though I’m especially fond of the color palette the University of Georgia Press found for This Compost, and I love the way Oxford set off the single lens Surrealist eyeglass for Acrobatic Modernism.

Book CoversMore Covers

There are two covers I designed myself. My first book was a collection of poems and drawings, Tabula Rasula, which I did while working as a typesetter and graphic designer before my academic career. The other was History of a Shiver. Using an old photographic image from an obscure Spanish photographer, I offered this to the humanities center at the University of Oregon for a talk I was giving there. Oxford then accepted it as a cover, but changed the typeface to a sans serif font. I preferred what I’d done for Oregon, but the difference is negligible.

And More Covers

The final category is a bit of each of the above. My history of Dada, Destruction Was My Beatrice, used an image of Hugo Ball performing at Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916, and while I’d suggested the image I hadn’t provided it. But it’s iconic, and I love the color design on the black and white photo. Imagining Language was given a lavish treatment at MIT Press, and they contacted one of the contributors to the anthology, English artist Tom Phillips, who supplied new work for the cover. My favorite rendition is the treatment given the whole book by Atlanta artist Brian Dettmer, who specializes in excavating the innards of books, working diligently with an exacto knife. He sought my permission to buy two rare copies of the out of print book to cut it up. One is now among my favorite possessions. 

Last Covers




Support English at UGA

We greatly appreciate your generosity. Your gift enables us to offer our students and faculty opportunities for research, travel, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Support the efforts of the Department of English by visiting our giving section. 

Give Now