The English translation of Il viaggiatore insonne, poet legend Sandro Penna's final collection, coupled with illustrations by the American artist Louis Fratino.
Sleepless Traveler is a collection of poems by the Italian poet Sandro Penna, with English translations by Jahan Khajavi and Tim Moore. The side-by-side translation of Penna's lyric poetry is coupled with illustrations by the American artist Louis Fratino—who also contributed a brief original text—as well as an essay on Penna by the Italian poet Nico Naldini, translated into English. Il viaggiatore insonne was Penna's final collection of poetry, published shortly after his death in his Roman apartment in 1977. Comprised of a core "tredici bellissime poesie" ("thirteen wonderful poems") as he referred to them endearingly, Penna had waited until his final months to relinquish these poems to his editor, keeping them close until the right moment. In fact, he had initially hoped to present the collection as an artist's edition in collaboration with the Italian sculptor Giacomo Manzù, a project which was sadly never realized. Inspired to honor Penna's intention of creating a visual complement for the poetry, Moore and Khajavi commissioned the Brooklyn-based painter Louis Fratino—a fellow reader and admirer of Penna—to make a series of eight lithographic prints which respond to the poetry at the historic Litografia Bulla in Rome.
Sandro Penna (1906-1977) is considered to be one of the greatest Italian poets of the 20th century.
The stridently homoerotic themes of Penna's lyric limited his recognition, while subjecting his work to censorship during his lifetime and beyond. Most of his poetry remains untranslated into English, while the majority of existing English translations are out of print. A friend of Pier Paolo Pasolini, discovered in the late 1920s by Umberto Saba, and endorsed by Nobel Prize winner Eugenio Montale, he deliberately stayed out of the literary world. Penna's epigrammatic, melancholy poetry, sensual and refined, is a seemingly simple hymn to the body and to difference. What emerges is a feverish, strange "joie de vivre" that still speaks powerfully to contemporary readers today.