About COVER Magazine

Cover Magazine was founded in 1987 in the East Village of New York City. The neighborhood was a triple crown winner — an epicenter of punk music, the home of a vibrant poetry and writers’ community, and center of a booming art scene with over 80 galleries. Poet Jeffrey Cyphers Wright put it all together in a monthly publication devoted to covering all the arts.

As publisher and editor, Wright initially recruited many of his friends and associates in the East Village. Many poets helped the magazine. Poet and art critic John Yau offered crucial early support. Greg Masters became Photography Editor. Billy McKay, an editor of the Poetry Project Newsletter became Dance Editor. Bina Sharif and Kevin Martin provided film and drama reviews and interviews.

Other Cover critics went on to become widely known including Robert C. Morgan, Saul Ostrow, Judd Tully, and David Ulin (who now reviews books for the LA Times). Phyllis Braff of the New York Times was a regular reviewer.


Jeffrey Cyphers Wright and Cover photographer Bob Berg at Marion's, ca.1995

Over the almost 15 year of publication, Cover ran hundreds of reviews and features on artists, musicians, writers, dancers, and performance artists.

Poetry Editor, the Kulchur queen Lita Hornick, brought in poems by Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Clark Coolidge, Rochelle Owens, George Economou, Ted Berrigan, Clayton Eshleman, Ted Joans and many others. As poetry host at the Museum of Modern Art, Lita invited Wright to read in her series there twice.

Cover featured original art and artist statements by artists as diverse as Judy Rifka, Sue Coe and Cary Smith. Each issue featured an interview with a master in their field, e.g. Allen Ginsberg, Rufino Tamayo, Kiki Smith, Louise Fishman, Spike Lee, Don Van Vliet, Herbie Hancock, Frank Stella, and Lou Reed.

Local heroes were touted, often before receiving mainstream attention. Penny Arcade, Colette, Eileen Myles, Joe Coleman, John S. Hall, and Maggie Estep were all featured cover stories. The magazine often broke new talent. The iconoclastic fine artist Andres Serrano and the singer/ songwriter Sarah McLachlan both received their first cover stories in Cover.

The advertising base that supported the magazine during its decade and a half, reflected the depth of sources that Cover was able to recruit. From blue chip, uptown galleries like Marlborough, Hirschl & Adler, Tibor de Nagy, Holly Solomon, and Knoedler, to downtown startups like Stefan Stux, M13, June Kelly, Monique Goldstrom, Kim Foster, and Curt Marcus. From the legendary Ritz nightclub, to Polygram Records, to the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the arts found a home in Cover Magazine.

Absolut Vodka under the direction of Michel Roux, allowed Cover to commission its own artists. Ron English, Steven Lack, and others contributed artwork for original ads that appeared only in Cover Magazine. Dewar’s and Camel became regular advertisers as well.

Cover also partnered with nightclubs. Webster Hall hosted a monthly rock and roll and arts showcase for five years. The founders of Tears for Fears played one night. My Mourning Jacket played another. Peter Beard’s artwork was featured. At the Knitting Factory (now City Winery) the Tiger Lilies played. The Limelight hosted two anniversary parties. At the one of the Cover parties at The Tunnel, Wright recited poetry with rock and roll star, the lead singer of the Cars, Ric Ocasik.

Thanks to Michael McKenzie, WDRE radio plugged the Ocasek/ Wright lineup and dubbed Wright, “Mr. Underground.” When the magazine gained national distribution through Ingrams, the honorific moniker was added to the magazine’s title which became Cover, the Underground National. At its height, Cover was a glossy, staple-bound, 64-page, monthly periodical.

ocasek performing

A poster from Tunnel nightclub, 1995.
Photo: Seth Wright

Shortly after starting Cover (which was originally called Say! for the first four issues), Wright tapped fellow writer and publisher Michele Corielle to become Coeditor. Corielle was hosting readings at galleries and running Tone Magazine, a hip zine also covering art, music, and poetry (including Wright and Bernadette Mayer). And she was day manager of the Ritz nightclub, which brought instant access to liquor advertisers.

One night at the Life Cafe, Jeff and Michele came up with a slogan for their new enterprise: “We cover all the arts.” Cover went on to become the most comprehensive magazine of its time to focus on all of the major arts—covering visual art, music, dance, film, theater, and literature in every issue.

Michele actually continued Tone Magazine as an insert in Cover for four issues before her efforts became fully integrated. She interviewed William Burroughs, musician Pierce Turner and featured artists James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook among other stories before leaving Cover to a pursue a career in journalism.

Associate Editor and Chief Photographer Bob Berg took original photos of numerous talents such as Radiohead, the Indigo Girls, Robert Rauschenberg, Fernando Botero, Christian Boltanski, Vik Muniz, and had many covers including Andrei Codrescu, Ric Ocasek, and Sarah McLachlan.

Artist KK Kozik became Senior Editor and interviewed music legends like Robbie Robertson, Chris Whitley, Jeff Buckley, and Julian Lennon.

Adam McGovern became Editor-in-Chief and interviewed Lou Reed and Living Colour. He oversaw our Absolut NY-sponsored art and culture listings section.

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders was a contributing photographer and shared his “Diary” shots, including Larry Rivers, Dennis Hopper, and Martin Scorsese. He did covers with Lou Reed, Todd Oldham, and Pauly Shore.

Photographer Luigi Cazzaniga became the magazine’s Fashion Editor and then our Designer in its final incarnation. He also took many photos for the magazine, including cover shots of actress Laura Dern, filmmaker Spike Lee, and Beat poet Herbert Huncke. Luigi’s wife, Ilka Scobie, also worked closely with the magazine as Deputy Editor and interviewed such figures as Lydia Lunch.

Giant thanks to all of the legion of beloved staff members, benefactors, contributors, and inspirations. It was quite a run.

Bob Parent, Art Director, 1987, 1990
Joseph Bednar, Art Director, 1990 - 1995
Luigi Cazzaniga Art Director 1995-2000

Some additional staff and writers:

Cathy Crane, Michael Carter, El Ghazali, Kay Kenny, Claire McConaughy, Nanako Inue, Tom Murrin, Barry Kornbluh, Ray Ecke, William Kelly, John Fortunato, Joel Silverstein, A.D. Coleman, Susan Shapiro, Rosemary Grillo, Geoffrey Jacques, Vernita N’Cognita, Madeline Verbasius, Rachel Youens, L. Brandon Krall, Hariette Surovell, Denise Carvahlo, Raye Snover, Liz Weitzman, Molly Jong-Fast