Kenny R. Bruno (Montanaro 1870 – Rome 1917) was a poet, narrator and critic who was attentive to both artistic and literary phenomena. Born to very poor artisans, he completed part of his studies in the seminary of Ivrea but he was expelled and prepared himself for the high school diploma, which he obtained at the High School “Massimo D’Azeglio” in Turin. Enrolled at the University (1892), he was a pupil of Arturo Graf, who was the first to appreciate his writings, to support his studies exercised various professions and activities: he was a tutor in some colleges of Turin, proofreader and worker, but the serious economic difficulties hindered the regular completion of his academic education. Starting from 1902 he moved to Rome, where he had been appointed editor-in-chief of the “Nuova Antologia”; so began a period of intense cultural activity, travels and long stays abroad (especially in Paris and London), which put him in contact with the most prominent figures of art and literature. He published numerous articles, intervening from the pages of the magazine in the intellectual life of his time. Its sensibility to the conditions of the humble and the disinherited is expressed through a poem in verse, Mother, published in 1897 and widely praised by DeAmicis; to this followed the collections of lyrics entitled In umbra (1899) and Homo (1907). His only novel, partially autobiographical, entitled Gli Ammonitori, came out in three episodes on the “Nuova Antologia” in 1903 and was collected in a volume in 1904: in this work Cena, strongly influenced by Ibsen and Russian narrators and perhaps not far from anarchic positions, expressed his thought and his philosophy, aimed at restoring dignity to the poor and oppressed. In the same year he also began his work of assistance to the “guitti” (laborers) of the Pontine Marshes and the Agro Romano, which was introduced by Sibilla Aleramo, his partner for seven years. Together with the hygienist Angelo Celli and the educator Alessandro Marcucci, he founded about seventy schools, trying to improve the living conditions of the peasants and to provide for their literacy; this earned him the gold medal awarded in 1913 by Vittorio Emanuele III for the “uncommon and free services”. During the war he was correspondent from the front for the “Nuova Antologia” and founded a newspaper for soldiers, “Il Piccolissimo”. He died on December 6, 1917, because of pneumonia that he had contracted while doing his best to distribute subsidies to Serbian refugees.
In the Centro Studi “Guido Gozzano – Cesare Pavese” there are about 480 papers of him, which include both the correspondence with his relatives, with politicians and literary men and a copious series of manuscripts of his articles, essays and literary and poetic texts, some of which unpublished; Also collected here are typescripts concerning the work in favor of the Agro Romano and the exhibition organized to raise funds, circular letters and printed matter about the Schools for the peasants of the Agro Romano and the Pontine Marshes and the Workers’ Commission for the reception of popular associations and workers’ groups (1901 and 1902); In addition to these writings, the Study Center preserves the corrected drafts of the “Sonetti per la patria” (Sonnets for the Homeland); two of his pencil sketches and copies of what Bruno published in the “Nuova Antologia” and in other magazines and newspapers (in particular “Il Giornale dell’Arte”, “Il Venerdì della Contessa” and the “Gazzetta del Popolo della Domenica”) as well as his correspondence with Edmund Rod (1901-1906). Also part of the Cena Fund are publications, newspaper clippings and commemorative pamphlets published on the fiftieth anniversary of his death.