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I’ve only seen one good poetry reading in my life: In my Introduction to American Literature class in college, an earnest, usually reserved young woman once got up to present a dramatic interpretation of Langston Hughes’ “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” I slouched back in my seat, expecting the worst sort of bombast a freshman drama-lit double-major could produce. But as her voice boomed out the poem’s opening lines—”I’ve known rivers:/I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the/flow of human blood in human veins”—with surprising authority, conviction, and sensitivity, I snapped to attention. By the time she got to the poem’s end, I was practically crying into my bluebook. If tonight’s Redemption Ritual performance of classic works by Hughes, Countee Cullen, Richard Wright, and other noted African-American writers is half as good, you’d be wise to have a hankie or two on hand. At 7:30 p.m. at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, 17th & New York Avenue NW. $20. (202) 639-1700. (Leonard Roberge)