Leo Luke Marcello was born August 6, 1945, in DeRidder, Louisiana, to Dr. Luke M. and Bert DiGiglia Marcello, both descendants of Sicilian immigrants. The eldest of five children—two sisters, Ann Elizabeth Governale and Mary Jane Doise, and two brothers, Sam Thomas and Charles Christopher Marcello—Leo received a B.A. from Tulane University, a M.A. and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. He studied philosophy and pre-theology at the University of Dallas and theology at Catholic University of America. He has taught at Howard University, for the University of Maryland in Wales, and at McNeese State University, where he held both the first Shearman Professorship in Humanities and the Shearman Professorship of Liberal Arts.
Leo's books of poetry include, The Secret Proximity of Everywhere (Blue Heron Press, 1994), Blackrobe's Love Letters (Xavier Review Press, 1994; reprinted by The Cramers Press, 2000), Silent Film (Mellen Poetry Press, 1997), and Nothing Grows in One Place Forever (Time Being Books, 1998). He is also the author of 15 Days of Prayer with Saint Katharine Drexel (Ligouri, 2002) and the editor of Everything Comes to Light: A Festschrift for Joy Scantlebury (The Cramers Press, 1993). Leo's many poetry awards include the David Lloyd Kreeger Award in poetry as well as a Deep South Writers Award. He also won the Acme Prize in fiction and has received two Shearman Fellowships at McNeese State University.
Leo had part in three collaborations with visual artists, the first a series of poems with lithographs by Larry Schuh. The series, entitled Contending with Beasts and Angels, focuses on the stories of Jacob and Esau and Abraham and Isaac. The second is a series of poems, paintings, and drawings about the life and work of Saint Katharine Drexel (poems published as Blackrobe's Love Letters) in collaboration with his brother, artist Chris Marcello. This program has appeared many times all over the country and was featured as a cover story for the National Catholic Reporter in 2001. A third collaboration was with photographer Gary Porter, whose black-and-white photographs of a Lake Charles Mardi Gras parade served as the inspiration for Leo's sequence of poems entitled Mardi Gras in Black and White.
Approaching Kaos, an autobiographical work of non-fiction, represents Leo's ongoing desire to connect with his Sicilian heritage. Return visits to Sicily and with family there helped bring his project for the Shearman Professorship in Liberal Arts to its completion.
If you wish to make a memorial contribution in Leo’s honor, please do so through the McNeese Foundation. We have set up an endowment account that will fund perpetually a poetry reading series in Leo’s name. Checks may be sent to the McNeese Foundation, PO Box 91989, McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana, 70609. All checks should be made payable to the McNeese Foundation. Indicate on the notation line that your contribution is for the Leo Luke Marcello Poetry Reading Series.