lisa bowen

How to String a Sentence Together, 2010-12 

Once upon a time, I found a copy of The Penguin Book of Cliches and I got to thinking about these curious little collections of words and their origins.


I began to notice that I have a habit of dropping cliches into every single conversation. I began to “collect” these cliches as they appeared naturally in conversation, then I started preserving them - labouring over each letter as I stitched, then I framed each phrase. Every day more and more cliches pop up, and if I don’t write them down immediately, they’re gone. It’s like i’m catching cliche-butterflies, and stitching them down before they get lost!*

We are so often told to “Avoid cliches like the plague”. Sometimes though, they are the only words that come to mind. For the verbally challenged of us, these words or phrases give us a voice and allow us to say - however clunkily - what we want to say.

I have become a proud user of these “hackneyed and trite expressions”. Maybe I need to add a dictionary to my bed-time reading, or maybe I don’t. Everybody has a personal favourite. What’s yours?



*No, maybe not butterflies. That suggests that i’d be the sort of person who would catch a butterfly and pin it to a bit of felt and frame it behind glass! I would never do such a thing of course - i’m a kindly vegetarian who kills only mosquitos and bed bugs.

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lisagillianbowen@gmail.com

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