“Love’s wave does not find itself until it reaches the sea,” wrote Vietnamese poet Xuân Quỳnh in her beloved poem "Sóng" (Waves). Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Ho Chi Minh City-based guest artists Quang & Lien, celebrates the award-winning writer who’s now considered one of her country’s most important 20th-century poets.
Born in the village of La Khe (now Ha Dong province) on this day in 1942, Nguyễn Thị Xuân Quỳnh was raised by her grandmother and showed a talent for dance. Recruited by the Central Art Troupe in her early teens, she was trained as a dancer and traveled the world to perform. During the 1960s she began pursuing her talent for writing, studying with the Writers’ Association. She worked with the weekly arts newspaper Văn nghệ, the official newspaper of the Hanoi Women’s Union Phụ Nữ Việt Nam, and the publishing house Tác Phẩm Mới.
In poems like “Thuyền và Biển” (Boat and Sea) and “Thơ Tình Cuối Mùa Thu” (Love Song for End of Autumn), Xuân Quỳnh's language evokes a depth of feeling and romantic yearning. She also wrote children’s poetry, collected in the book Bầu trời trong quả trứng (The sky in an egg). Some of her works have been set to music, and her 1967 poem “Waves” was so influential that it was taught in Vietnamese schools. She married distinguished poet and playwright Lưu Quang Vũ. In 2017 the Vietnamese government awarded Xuân Quỳnh the Hồ Chí Minh Prize, the country’s highest artistic honor.
Happy Birthday, Xuân Quỳnh!
Guest Artist Q&A with Quang & Lien
Today's Doodle was created by Ho Chi Minh City–based guest artists Quang and Lien, who work together under the pen name KAA. Below they share their thoughts on the making of the Doodle:
Q: Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A: When we knew that this Doodle was about Xuân Quỳnh, one of the most beloved modern poets of Vietnam, we were so happy! Every Vietnamese student knows her poems by heart. Xuân Quỳnh is adored for her inspiring, beautiful, and heartfelt poems, along with her love for her husband, also one of the best writers in Vietnam. The death of her and her family was something of a national tragedy, but their legacy lives on. That's why this topic is so meaningful to us.
Q: What were your first thoughts when you were approached about the project?
A: We were surprised and excited to be working with Google Doodle! It's like a dream job to us. We wanted to do our best to describe Xuân Quỳnh’s beautiful smile and her warm personality.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: At first, we wanted to bring all the images in her poems to the piece as well as her beloved Hanoi in wartime. However, we decided to focus on her best-known poems: ''Waves'' and "The Boat and the Ocean," as you can see. Those poems were turned into famous songs and everyone can remember them.
Q: What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A: Xuân Quỳnh was not only a poet; she was a strong, brave feminist who played an important part in Vietnam’s literary history. In wartime, she stood for peace and love. We hope that people will be inspired by her and remember her words once again.
Early sketchs of the Doodle