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.