This article draws on the formal and aesthetic qualities of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée as a critical model for theorizing the transnational legacies of colonialism and empire embedded in the acts of language learning and as an opening for Asian American literary studies to engage with the previously understudied genre of Thai American and Thai poetry. Foregrounding aesthetics and unique, translingual poetic practices, the readings in this article explore rich connections between Dictée and two experimental collections of Thai and Thai American poetry: Padcha Tuntha-obas’s trespasses (2006) and Jai Arun Ravine’s แล้วandthen entwine (2011a). Thai American cultural production is uniquely situated to offer aesthetic insights into the history of US presence in Southeast Asia from the mid-twentieth century onward, which in Thailand took the form of allyship and soft power as Thailand’s formally uncolonized status obscured the violent codifications of gender, racial, and sexual norms to align with Western, imperial worldviews. The author argues that, just as Dictée marked a revolutionary period in Asian American literary studies as the field grappled with the role of poststructural theory, experimental literary forms, and transnational, decolonial politics in the United States and Asia, a more sustained engagement with Thai American and Thai poetry can offer a critical entry point to address US informal empire building in Southeast Asia, including activities often occluded in mainstream historical narratives by a singular focus on Vietnam during the Cold War era.

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