2006 Ovidius Prize for Literature (past honorees include Orhan Pamuk, Milan Kundera, Amos Oz, Jorge Semprun, Madeleine Thien, Mario Vargas Llosa.

1993 George Foster Peabody Award for writing and starring in the film Road Scholar. Golden Eagle Award from Cine, Washington, DC., The Chris Award from the Columbus Film Festival, the Golden Gate Award from San Francisco Film Festival, Audience Award at San Francisco Film Festival, and Best Documentary at the Seattle Film Festival.

2017 Heritage Award from the American Immigration Council (past honorees include include musician Carlos Santana, Nobel Prize winning physicist Daniel Tsui, General Colin Powell, baseball player Sammy Sosa, Senator Daniel Inouye, Diane Guerrero, Gaby Pacheco and the Southern Poverty Law Center).

2009 MacCurdy Distinguished Chair in English, Louisiana State University

2004 Honorary Doctor of the Arts, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston

2001 The Star of Romania at the rank of Commander, Presidential honor

2008 Professor Honoris Causa, University of Bucharest

2007 Premiul Radio Romania Cultural for the epic poem “Submarinul Iertat,” with Ruxandra Cesereanu. A literary prize given for achievements in the arts.

2006 New Orleans Mayor' Award for Literature

2005 King of Krewe de Vieux at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Past honorees include Danny Barker, Ernie K-Doe, Irma Thomas, Ronnie Virgets and Dr. John; also King of Molly's Halloween Parade, and King of the Krew de Jieux in New Orleans in the 1990s.

2006 New Orleans Writers Association Award

2002 Lowell Thomas Gold Award for Excellence in Travel Journalism

2003 Pushcart Prize for “Geographers,” a long poem; also received the 1987 Pushcart Prize for the novella “Samba de Los Agentes.”

2001 Literature Prize of the Romanian Cultural Foundation

2001 Alternative Newsweekly Awards, First Prize for Column

1999-2010 LSU MacCurdy Distinguished Emeritus Professor of English

1998 Honorary Doctor of Humanities, Shenandoah University, Virginia..

1997 Vladimir Colin International Literature Prize

1995 ACLU Freedom of Speech Award

1993 George Foster Peabody Award for the film Road Scholar;

1984 General Electric Foundation Poetry Prize

1983 Towson State University Literature Prize

1970 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry. 1996 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for editing Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Books & Ideas; 1998 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for NPR radio projects.

1970 Big Table Younger Poets Poetry Award