He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1983 for his poetry collection, "Latter-Day Psalms", by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters. Ezekiel has been applauded for his subtle, restrained and well crafted diction, dealing with common and mundane (simple) themes in a manner that manifests both cognitive profundity, as well as an unsentimental, realistic sensibility, that has been influential on the course of succeeding Indian English poetry.
Ezekiel enriched and established Indian English language poetry through his modernist innovations and techniques, which enlarged Indian English literature, moving it beyond purely spiritual and orientalist themes, to include a wider range of concerns and interests, including mundane familial events, individual angst and skeptical societal introspection.
Ezekiel's first book,The Bad Day, appeared in 1952. He published another volume of poems, The deadly man in 1960. After working as an advertising copywriter and general manager of a picture frame company (1954–59), he co-founded the literary monthly Jumpo, in 1961. He became art critic of The Times of India (1964–66) and ed Poetry India (1966–67). From 1961 to 1972, he headed the English department of Mithibai College, Bombay. The Exact Name, his fifth book of poetry was published in 1965. During this period he held short-term tenure as visiting professor at University of Leeds (1964) and University of Pondicherry (1967). In 1969, Writers Workshop, Ezekiel published his The Damn Plays. A year later, he presented an art series of ten programmes for Indian television. In 1976, he translated Jawaharlal Nehru poetry from English to Marathi, in collaboration with Vrinda Nabar, and co-ed a fiction and poetry anthology. His poem The Night of the Scorpion is used as study material in Indian and Colombian schools. Ezekiel also penned poems in ‘Indian English’  like the one based on instruction boards in his favourite Irani café. His poems are used in NCERT and ICSE English textbooks.
Nissim Ezekiel is often considered the father of Modern Indian English poetry by many critics.
He was honoured with the Padmashri award by the President of India in 1988 and the Sahitya akademi cultural award in 1983.
He ed The Indian P.E.N., the official organ of P.E.N. All-India Centre, Bombay from The Theosophy Hall, New Marine Lines, Bombay now Mumbai and encouraged poets and writers.