Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Calvin Forbes  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1945 in Newark, New Jersey

-- Website --
-- Calvin Forbes on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Forbes lives in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Calvin Forbes is a poet, lecturer, and educator. Forbes's career as a writer is paralleled by a distinguished career as an educator. He taught African American literature at Emerson College in Boston from 1969 to 1973, then left to become an assistant professor at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, for a year. He subsequently took a leave of absence and traveled to Denmark, France, and England as a Fulbright scholar. In 1975, Forbes returned to Tufts and continued to teach there until 1977, when he again departed to finish an MFA at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Forbes accepted a position at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1978. He won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1982 and moved to Jamaica, where he worked on an unpublished novel and lectured at the University of the West Indies in Kingston. After returning to teach at Howard and other neighboring colleges and universities, Forbes moved to Chicago. He is an Associate Professor and currently teaches literature and writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.His poems have also appeared in the anthologies ''A Century in Two Decades: A Burning Deck Anthology, 1961-81'' and ''New Black Voices''.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Blue Monday. (The Wesleyan poetry program)
ISBN: 0819520705

Columbia Univ Pr. 1974

From the Book of Shine
ISBN: 0930900707

Burning Deck. 1979

Small book of poems by Calvin Forbes about the loves and other adventures of Shine.

The Shine Poems
ISBN: 0807126667

LSU Press. 2001

Shine is an African American folk character who emerged after World War I in toasts, blues, folk poetry, and children’s rhymes. In his new book of poems, Calvin Forbes reinvents Shine, giving him a girlfriend, Glow, and a child, Shade. He renders the figure more melancholy and adds traces of the surreal and slapstick―accessories “typical of the folk dibbling and dabbling as the tradition is passed along.”

While only the last quarter of The Shine Poems concern Shine, all of the poems reflect a similar sensibility. They share the narrative threads of family relationships and personal and social history while they test the full possibilities of colloquial language and speech rhythms in verse. With its songs, blues, and quick, witty epigrams, The Shine Poems is a collection clear, firm, funny, and playful even as it takes that inevitable turn in the road toward the somber.



Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)