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About this poet

Born in 1945, Calvin Forbes grew up in Newark, New Jersey. He attended the New School for Social Research, Rutgers University, and received an MFA from Brown University.

His books of poetry include The Shine Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 2001), From the Book of Shine (1979), and Blue Monday (1974). His poems have appeared in anthologies such as A Century in Two Decades: A Burning Deck Anthology, 1961-81 (1982) and New Black Voices (1972).

His honors and awards include fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference. Forbes is an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he teaches writing, literature, and jazz history.

Homing

Calvin Forbes, 1945
The water's wonderful there
And the women aren't bad
Neither when you look at them
Twice, but the blame

Lies in that glass from the tap
For making me want to go back.
I went looking for where they get
It from but I got a ticket

For speeding; and when I said
I'm Mister Shine, a black ghost,
Cop said that's too bad.
Glow I was lost.

But my sermon is about the water,
How it's precious like family
When you wanting something familiar.
It made me happy-- 

It taste like baby's breath,
Like dew. I never knew sweeter water.
But I'm a spook's spook; I stole
This story from a dead man's mouth.

He was a preacher from Virginia
Who before he expired said:
Somewhere there's a well of sweet water.
Somewhere in Ohio or maybe Carolina.

From The Shine Poems by Calvin Forbes. Copyright © 2001 by Calvin Forbes. Reproduced with permission of Louisiana State University Press. All rights reserved.

Calvin Forbes

Calvin Forbes

Born in 1945, Calvin Forbes grew up in Newark, New Jersey