Forbes was born in Newark, New Jersey, the 7th of 8 children of Jacob and Mary (Short) Forbes. He attended Rutgers University and the New School for Social Research, where he studied under Jose Garcia Villa.
From 1969 to 1973 he taught African American literature at Emerson College, Boston. In the latter year he became an associate professor at Tufts University in Boston. He took a leave of absence as a Fulbright scholar in 1974, the year he published his first book of poetry, Blue Monday. He taught at Tufts from 1975 to 1977, when he went to Brown University to complete his M.F.A.. In 1978 he took a position at Howard University.
The Oxford Companion to African American Literature says of Blue Monday: "Critics have praised Forbes's first book for its metaphoric complexity, noting that he successfully employs synecdoche to make individual images represent the whole of the poem, like the poets John Donne and Gwendolyn Brooks — writers whose work he admires. Detractors, on the other hand, have argued that elements of blues singing work against Forbes when he tries to incorporate them into poetry: they suggest that blues music allows for a shifting of imagery and an emotional distance that sometimes weaken his work. The critics agree, however, that Blue Monday represents an innovative attempt to find an original poetic voice."
- Blue Monday. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1974.
- From the Book of Shine. Providence, RI: Burning Deck Press, 1979.
- The Shine Poems. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 2001.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Calvin Forbes, Academy of American Poets, Poets.org, Web, Jan. 17, 2012.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Calvin Forbes in the Oxford Companion to African American Literature., Answers.com, Web, Jan. 17, 2012.
- ↑ Search results = au:Calvin Forbes, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Aug. 11, 2014.
- "Momma Said"
- Calvin Forbes profile & poem ("Homing") at the Academy of American Poets
- Calvin Forbes 3 poems at Poetry Out Loud
- Calvin Forbes b. 1945 at the Poetry Foundation
- Calvin Forbes at Amazon.com
- Calvin Forbes in the Oxford Companion to African American Literature
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