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Anna Cohn Orchard - Why Exeter?

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Anna says her life has felt fairly nomadic at times, moving between England and the United States as a child before coming to Exeter at the age of 9 and then returning to the US for university. Upon graduation Anna stayed stateside and worked in Brooklyn for many years before feeling the pull back to the University of Exeter for her masters in 2018.

 Anna says that her perceptions of Exeter have changed a lot over the years: “As a child, going to Newtown School and living by Belmont Park, it felt like a lovely small community. As a teenager and young adult, I didn’t feel there was much for me here—the culture, the ideas, the energy, that was all happening in other places.”

 With a somewhat nomadic life to date, what is it that appeals to Anna about Exeter now?

 “With the rise of incredible independents and arts organisations popping up around the city and an excitement around what Exeter’s future could hold, I’m full of anticipation for Exeter.”

 And like so many of us, it’s the people in Exeter that make life great for Anna.

 “I’m incredibly grateful to be spending time with my mom, who has lived in Exeter since we first moved here, and my younger sister, who came back from California late last year. The three of us haven’t lived in the same country for almost 20 years. It’s a real joy not having to spend hundreds of pounds on flights to see them…I mean…it’s a real joy spending time with them!”

 And Anna says that she thinks something that makes Exeter stand out from other cities is that it has so much interesting cultural heritage and so much going on for its size, but that we’re too good at hiding our own assets. She says that there’s a feeling of having to really seek out what goes on in the city and to find your community, but that this in itself shows its potential, something that she can’t wait to share in her new role.

 So, is this enough to make Exeter home for Anna?

 “Running the City of Literature initiative gives me a strong incentive to stay in Exeter for a while and to contribute to the arts and culture movement that’s growing here. I think being a City of Literature offers a great focal point to Exeter, the opportunity to create fresh cultural offerings centred around expanding Exeter’s diversity and our collective wellbeing.”

 Find out more about the City of Literature at:

 Anna is keen to hear from residents and students in and around Exeter with their ideas, hopes, and needs for creating a strong, imaginative, and dynamic literary culture in the region.

Contact the team at or follow them on social media @exetercityoflit.