What is going on now?
Samizdat as a wide-spread phenomenon of the 50s-80s allowed people to express themselves, to distribute different ideas and to keep some artistic life in the closed totalitarian society. Internet as a wide-spread phenomenon of the 90s allows people to do the same things in the opened democratic society. Russian part of Internet reminds me a huge archive of nonprofessional writings. Most of people who create their web-sites are not poets or painters. They are eager to write or paint as if it is their last chance to be heard. Why? Because they love it. Some of them remember the experience of samizdat and reproduce it. Some of them just explore the new medium and enjoy leaving traces. Communist ideology has gone but necessity of self-expression will always exist. Russian Internet (RuNet) is full of individual and corporate projects of self-expression.
Web-site Stihi (Verses) is an excellent example of it. It is a kind of electronic magazine where everyone can put his/her works. For the moment it consists of 49 902 pieces of 3 616 authors. Genres of poetry are as different as possible: lyrics, drama, sonnet, blank verse, vers libre, songs, ditties, etc, etc. Pieces of poetry are different too. Some of them are really good. Sophisticated, well written, even stylish ... Most of them are leave much to be desired ... Surfing this site I found some pieces in English. Here is a citation so you can judge:
The life had been so still and prosy
Without any shade of rosy
Before I met my little boy,
So nice, intelligent and coy.
People love poetry but ... poetry is not so easy.
Very popular kind of writing is collaborative writing. There are several well-known sites with such projects. For example, Les bouts-rimes, Garden of forking hokku, RenguRu. Depending on rules and type of poetry users may suggest verses, stanzas of whatever. Eventually they create interesting pieces of poetry with no author. Some authors suggest their own pieces
And what about professional poets and artists (or people who think they are real poets/artists)? They also do something in the RuNet. Most of so-called media-art doesn't impress me. You may judge some English sites such as Moscow WWWArt Centre, Aleksei Shulgin projects.
Poets who became famous long before the Internet publish their pieces of poetry too. D. A. Prigov, Lev Rubenstein, Andrey Voznesenskiy. They try to understand new media by poetic means. Prigov's piece is called "Metacomputer extremes". Voznesenskiy declares that he is "a citizen of the United Chats!". His poetry sometimes is very close to visual poetry,
Poetry is very old kind of art. Poet works with a word, s/he exploits its inwardness to make some new sense or sounding. Computer technologies suggest to use the "outwardness" of the word, to combine poetical image and visible image. A poet need to learn it (at least s/he need to learn how to use computer tools). And now most of electronic poetry is a kind of cave art. It is simple, sometimes naive, sometimes excessive. It can be talented but it is still young and probing. Russian poetry has strong traditions in classic as well as avant-garde poetry. Russian poets depict their messages on the Net. Sooner or later it'll be self-sufficient, distinguished kind of art.
Why? Because we love it.