Zhang Lian was an elementary school teacher for several years, but he has spent most of his life as a farmer, eking out a living growing sunflowers and potatoes. He has never left the land he tills. His poems are simplistic and naturalistic, products of the rugged land in Northwestern China. He has published collections such as Dusk and Complete Collections of the Dusk. Zhang's ídusk poemsë are artistic yet truthful representations of countryside China. These poems have a pristine beauty that reflects the countryside surrounding the poet.
Zhang is an impoverished poet barely making a living from his crops, and has two children in school. He borrowed money to publish his collection of poems. When he became better known in China for his poems, he received a modest subsidy from the government, a rare recognition that few poets have enjoyed.