David Cowsert '05, MS '06, a graduate of Portland State's student-run Ooligan Press and now head of a Portland-based publishing house, was in the Marines and Army for 14 years, fought on the front lines in the Persian Gulf War, and worked as a police officer.
It was not a typical route to becoming a publisher, which is what he has been since he and four other PSU Ooligan alumni formed Ink & Paper Group last summer.
But the burly Florida native, who spent his high school years in Utah, grew up around books. At the time Cowsert was born, his father was a librarian who drove their town's first bookmobile; and by age 12, Cowsert was working in a library.
The day following his graduation from high school, he was in boot camp for the Marines. He served six years, then moved to the Army for eight years. By then he had a family, though, and grew tired of the constant travel. So he became a police officer for 10 years, first in Texas and then in Vancouver, Washington. While there he obtained a bachelor's degree at Portland State in community development, with a minor in writing. He then completed his master's from PSU in writing, with the focus on publishing and writing instruction.
"With Ooligan, I had the opportunity to actually work on a book," he says. "It no longer was theoretical or academic. It was exciting and thrilling, the culmination of what I wanted to do all along."
As chief executive of Ink & Paper Group, Cowsert already has overseen the release of two books, with several others in the pipeline, and is developing a magazine. The umbrella group includes five separate imprints publishing socially responsible nonfiction, poetry, literary fiction, science fiction and fantasy, and comics and graphics novels.
Cowsert credits Ooligan with giving him and his colleagues practical, hands-on experience. "Ooligan Press is sending out people who are very competent from the beginning," he says. "They can hit the ground running."
By Cliff Collins