Marcello Di Cintio was born in Calgary and studied Microbiology and English at the University of Calgary. Di Cintio was also a member of the University of Calgary wrestling team. He graduated in 1997 with a pair of degrees (a BA and BSc) and, he says, two cauliflower ears. Later that year, Di Cintio travelled to West Africa with a volunteer organization, Canadian Crossroads International, and taught biology in a Ghanaian village for three months. (This would be the first and last time he used his science degree, much to his mother's chagrin). When his volunteer placement was complete, Di Cintio travelled through western and northern Africa for nine months. His time amid the colour and heat of Africa led to a love affair with travel and resulted in his first book, Harmattan: Wind across West Africa, which won the Henry Kriesel Award for Best First Book and was also a finalist for the Wilfred Eggleston Prize for Best Nonfiction at the Alberta Book Awards. In December 1999, hot with millennium fever, Di Cintio travelled to Jerusalem to watch the clock turn on 2000. He wandered throughout Israel and Egypt before returning to Calgary to begin his career as a freelance writer in earnest. Since then he has published articles in numerous magazines and literary journals including The Walrus, EnRoute, Geist and The Globe and Mail. His writing received several honours including the 2002 Maclean-Hunter Endowment Prize for Creative Nonfiction and a number of Western and National Magazine Award nominations. Di Cintio travelled to Iran in the summer of 2003 seeking the connection between Persian poets and traditional wrestlers. This trip to Iran, and a subsequent return to the country the following year, yielded the stories that comprise Di Cintio's new travel memoir, Poets & Pahlevans: A Journey into the Heart of Iran. Knopf Canada published Poets & Pahlevans in 2006. From the Hardcover edition.
"A fine, fine talent to be savoured." -Wayson Choy "The worlds of poetry and Persian wrestling intersect in this captivating book. It's a journey spiced with sweat and the scent of saffron." -Will Ferguson "Travel is all about connecting, true, but Di Cintio's headlocks and body slams take cross-cultural bonding to a new level. . . . Though its subject is wrestling, this is much more a book about putting your life in other people's hands in an age of distrust." -The Globe and Mail