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Scott Bailey grew up in Raleigh, Mississippi, the former home of the National Tobacco Spitting Contest. He comes from a family of preachers and carpenters. Although he spoke in tongues, on the women's side of the altar, at Crossroads Holiness Church, he never learned how to pound a nail. His degrees include a B.A. in English, Summa Cum Laude, an M.A. in Creative Writing from the College of Arts & Letters, The University of Southern Mississippi, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New York University, and a Ph.D. in English from Florida State University. He has received fellowships from Florida State University, The Mississippi Arts Commission, New York University, and The Valparaiso Foundation in Spain.